Myanmar graduate out to change fate of Rohingyas via education

KUALA LUMPUR: Not being able to see the ongoing misery of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic group in the country, a former Myanmar university graduate has taken the initiative to teach English to Rohingya refugee children.

Having graduated with a Degree in Language Studies from the University of Sittwe, Myanmar, Muhammad Amin Nurul Hoque, a Rohingya refugee, is confident that only with education can their plight be changed.

"I do not have the money to give to them, perhaps by teaching English, it can facilitate them to communicate and face the world later.

"Only education can improve the lives of the Rohingya community... that's why I try to impart some of the knowledge I have to them," said the 24-year-old teacher when met by Bernama recently.

Muhammad Amin, who has been in Malaysia for the last four years, teaches English to more than 40 children, aged between seven and 12 years, at the Ethnic Rohingya Committee of Arakan Malaysia (ECRA) Madrasah in Serdang, Selangor.

According to Muhammad Amin, during the two years of teaching at the Rohingya madrasah, he daily saw expectant faces hoping for the strife in his country to end.

"They ask me questions like, whether the long war in our country will ever end?

"Although most of them are born in Malaysia and have never experienced the war, but on average they want very much to return to their country of origin," he said.

Muhammad Amin, the second son of five siblings, always hopes to meet his family again in his homeland someday.

"Though life here (Malaysia) is much better than in Myanmar, the sad feeling persists, especially during the festive seasons such as Aidilfitri.

"At one point I was in tears recalling the fate of my mother, father and siblings who are there. However, my determination to help the Rohingya community here to get a good education has always been the inspiration for me to continue serving without expecting anything in return.

He hoped that one day, the Malaysian government will open up opportunities for these Rohingya children to obtain formal basic education at public schools in the country.

Like Muhammad Amin, Kuala Lumpur native Noraini Dhiauddin, 39, also has a dream of changing the fate of the Rohingya community.

Noraini, who holds a Masters of Science in Development from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) believes that everyone has the right to have access to a complete basic education, including the Rohingya community.

"I want to open people's eyes about who the Rohingya people are, and how through education the fate of a race can be changed and indirectly it will dispel the negative perception that is often levelled against this group.

"There is no doubt that many are sceptical of their presence in Malaysia... but trust me they are not here to deprive the rights of the local communities but they are just people who need help and support from all parties," she said.

Noraini, who teaches Bahasa Melayu and Science, at the ECRA Madrasah, said she would always help the group to interact with the other communities rather than just associating with their own group.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) statistics, until the end of April, there were 150,662 refugees and asylum seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia, with 57,924 of them being ethnic Rohingyas. — Bernama