Major Rohingya refugee camp populations in Bangladesh. AFPA plan to start repatriating Rohingya Muslims back to Myanmar is premature and the refugees are “terrified” about leaving Bangladesh where they sought refuge, dozens of aid agencies working in the region said Friday.More than 720,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state after a heavyhanded army crackdown in August last year that survivors say involved mass rape and extrajudicial killings.UN officials say the country’s military leaders should be investigated for genocide but Myanmar has rebuffed the calls, arguing it was only defending itself against Rohingya militants who attacked police posts.Both Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation agreement in November last year to allow Rohingya to return but many fear going back without guarantees of citizenship, freedom of movement and safety.However the governments confirmed in recent weeks that they were pushing ahead with the first large-scale repatriation set for mid-November, prompting an outcry from activists who say conditions on the ground in Rakhine are not adequate to take the refugees back.Rohingya Camp”They are terrified about what will happen to them if they are returned to Myanmar now, and distressed by the lack of information they have received,” the group of 42 aid agencies and civil society groups said in a statement that referred to the push as “dangerous.””They fled to Bangladesh to seek safety and they are very grateful to the Government of Bangladesh for giving them a safe haven.”Oxfam, World Vision and Save the Children were among the groups working in Myanmar and Bangladesh that signed the statement.They said refugees fear living in enclosed settlements like the one in central Rakhine state, where more than 120,000 Rohingya have been confined to camps for six years since intercommunal violence erupted in the region in 2012.Myint Khaing, the Maungdaw township administrator in northern Rakhine, told AFP that November 15 is the estimated repatriation start date and that the plan is to receive more than 2,200 people in total at a rate of 150 per day.But he seemed unsure if it would go ahead.”We can confirm only on the 15th whether the people from our given list are coming or not,” he said.Northern Rakhine has been largely sealed off since the crackdown except for tightly organised government trips for media and senior visiting diplomats.The UN has been granted access to the area to assess conditions on the ground but the approvals have been slow and the amount of territory accessible has been limited.Authorities in Bangladesh worry that Rohingya may once again risk travelling to other parts of Southeast Asia by boat, a route previously popular with those seeking economic opportunities outside the grim camps.This week Bangladesh’s coast guard rescued 33 Rohingyas and detained six alleged human traffickers from a fishing trawler headed for Malaysia in the Bay of Bengal.
Several education marketing groups, including the Education Market Association, have found that roughly 99.5 percent of all public-school teachers and administrators use their own money to prepare their classrooms each year – when both state funding and parental contributions fall short. At an estimated cost per teacher of more than $400 per year, an increased number of educators now utilize nationwide donation sites, to buffer the costs.Schools in the District are no exception. A tour through DonorsChoose.org, which allows people to donate supplies to schools, shows teachers from both D.C. public and charter schools requesting materials ranging from personal hygiene products to books, laptops and drumsticks. “My students need toothbrushes, soap, and deodorant for personal use. In the classroom, we want to remain clean and healthy as well with the wipes, hand sanitizers, and tissues,” a request from Charles Drew Elementary School teacher Ms. O said.Another solicitation, from Mrs. Yarborough of Cesar Chavez Public Charter School in Northwest D.C. said: ‘My students need 60 copies of ‘Between the World and Me’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates.” According to the post, the book is the first book in her 9th grade class’ study of the Modern Black Experience in America.”As the school year begins, it is unclear how many requests will be successfully answered. At the root of the budget crisis, The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted at least 30 states paid less per student in school funding in 2014 than they did in 2008. Further, by mid-2012, local school districts had cut 351,000 jobs – with 297,000 jobs remaining unfilled. The result, the study concluded, was “more teachers digging more deeply into their pockets than ever before, and that’s before the school year has even begun.”Jacqueline Freeman, a retired DCPS teacher told the AFRO that parents are increasingly being asked to supply things to classrooms that the school used to provide. When coupled with an already tightened budget at home and deepened cuts within the school, teachers often feel obligated to make up the cost difference themselves.“There were friends of mine who worked in major corporations, who agreed to photocopy materials we needed because there were not enough books budgeted, others donated supplies so that my students would not be shortchanged by a lack of materials,” Freeman, who retired in 2010 told the AFRO. “It has gotten progressively worse, because now I am hearing that classrooms are coming up short for things like mats for the kids’ naps.”Staples offers a classroom registry, of sorts, that allows teachers to list the materials they require, and then promote those items to the public through their StaplesForStudents.org campaign each year. While the ire of some D.C. residents was raised at the thought of teachers having to pay for or solicit material donations, others told the AFRO that the donation sites bring needed attention to how city funds are being spent and how neighbors can help.“I just moved here as a single person with no children, but I would gladly help support our local schools with whatever they need,” Ward 7 resident Eric Taylor told the AFRO. “I had no idea schools were dealing with this sort of thing . . . it means that as a community, we need to do our due diligence and help our students and educators as much as possible.”In May, according to the Washington Post, the D.C. Council’s Committee on Education voted to raise per-pupil spending to 2.38 percent, which is more than a percentage point below the 3.5 percent increase recommended by education advocates.