2020 Day 2: 26th May Presentation

Integrating Psycho-Social Needs of Refugee Girl Children in Educational Spaces: A Case Study of Rohingya Girls Settled in Hyderabad

Debanjali Saha
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad (2016-2018) 

Under international law of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and Convention on the Rights of Children (1989), refugee children have theoretical rights to basic needs such as food, shelter, health care facilities and education. However, in ground reality, such laws are unenforceable in nature. In a situation of forced displacement, the women and girl children of the persecuted community are affected the most since through the violation of the bodily integrity of the female members of a community, the culture and ethnicity of the community is attacked. Protecting the immediate basic needs with a vision of long-term development for this doubly marginalized population thus becomes important in a host country. With respect to refugee girl children, educational spaces are sanctities which provide them with safety and security. However, this is not the case for Rohingya refugees in India. Undertaken in the suburbs of Hyderabad in refugee camps with the assistance of Save the Children, this study focuses on the analysis of the right to education of the Rohingya refugee girl child and her psycho-social needs in order to access and sustain at educational spaces. The study is qualitative in nature, pertaining to the feminist methodology of the interpretive paradigm with a thematic analysis of the data collected. This study showcases that access to educational spaces often involves sexual harassment, humiliation inflicted by teachers and peers within classrooms. Furthermore, there exist difficulties in learning a new language and integrating with the cultural norms of the host society. Within classrooms, teachers’ perceptions towards and interactions with these students can either encourage or discourage their participation. This study found out the high aspiration levels of refugee girl students and refugee parents are highly involved in their daughters’ education in order to secure a safe future. However, the obstacle which resonated with all refugee parents is the inability to achieve educational certificates in the absence of proper identification cards. This acts as the primary reason for prevalence of early child marriage within the community. Through this study, emphasis has been made to create spaces where refugee girl students can voice their problems, exercise agency in their life choices and carve out a better future for herself and her family. To achieve this, counselling services, language trainers and support from Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are required to cater to their immediate needs.

Keywords: Rohingya refugee girl students, teachers’ perceptions, educational spaces, gender-based discrimination, psycho-social needs, counselling services, access to education