A generation is facing a bleak future unless urgent action is taken, Save the Children warned as UN chiefs saw the scale of the crisis for themselves.
Almost a year after hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children fled from ethnic violence in Myanmar, more than 70% of them are out of school.
Over 327,000 refugee children are deprived of education around the city of Cox's Bazaar, where they arrived after leaving their homes because of killings and sexual assaults.
“They are being deprived of the right to learn basic skills like reading and writing, which would empower them to build a brighter future for themselves and their families, " said Save the Children’s Country Director in Bangladesh, Mark Pierce.
"This is setting an entire generation of children up for a very bleak future.”
Most of the children who are getting an education have only two hours of lessons a day - often at levels well below their age group.
Save the Children is running nearly 100 centres with the Bangladesh government that support children’s learning and wellbeing in their mother tongue, Rohingya, in the camps in Cox’s Bazar.
“Education isn’t an optional luxury – it’s a lifesaving intervention," said Pierce. "It brings hope and opportunity to children, providing them with a return to familiar routines while helping to alleviate the psychosocial impact of violence and displacement.”
He spoke yesterday as a high-powered United Nations delegation visited Rohingya refugee families in Cox's Bazaar. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: "Nothing could have prepared me for the scale of the crisis and extent of suffering."
Guterres visited the vast Kutapalong Camp with Filippo Grandi, head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR; Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund; and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
More than 600,000 Rohingya people left Myanmar last year for Bangladesh, where they face an uncertain future in refugee camps.
Around 60% of those fleeing ethnic cleansing in Rahkine State that began in August have been children.
60% of Rohingya children in Cox's Bazaar did not go to school when they were in Myanmar. But when families were surveyed by the International Rescue Committee, 90% said they would send their children to school given the chance.