School closures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic led to the largest disruption of education in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners worldwide. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh were facing an education crisis even before the pandemic, as the Bangladesh government forbids unregistered Rohingya refugees from accessing the country’s public schools. In place of these schools, the UN Children’s Fund and international nongovernmental organizations provide nonformal education through informal learning centers in the Rohingya camps. Building on this pre-existing education crisis, the pandemic in Bangladesh led to some of the longest school closures in the world. Using original phone and in-person survey data, we explore the impact the closing of schools and learning centers during COVID-19 had on refugee and host community children in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. While we do not find clear evidence that the pandemic affected refugee education in general, we do identify an especially detrimental effect the closing of education services had on the attendance of teenage girls among the Rohingya refugees after the learning centers reopened. The heterogenous effects are important because they highlight how the pandemic differentially affected different groups of refugees.
Østby, Gudrun; Haakon Gjerløw; Sabrina Karim & Emily Dunlop (2023) Left Further Behind after the COVID-19 School Closures: Survey Evidence on Rohingya Refugees and Host Communities in Bangladesh, Journal on Education in Emergencies 9 (1): 64–94.