Rohingya Society of Malaysia was established in February 2010 to advocate for the needs of Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia. RSM's main objectives are to support the Rohingya community through eradicating illiteracy, female empowerment, and helping youth members access higher education and gain professional skills through basic training programs.
Rohingya are a Muslim minority population from Myanmar deprived of all basic human rights and forced to leave their homes by military forces. There are approximately 1,5 million Rohingya refugees worldwide. In Malaysia, approximately 56,000 Rohingya refugees are registered with the UNHCR, with more than 35,000 estimated unregistered. Poverty and cultural factors contribute to illiteracy among Rohingya refugee women.
RSM will launch a computer class and a literacy class to improve the level of English language proficiency and computer literacy among members of the Rohingya community, thereby contributing to personal growth and independence. Each class will be open to 20 students and will run for 4 months. As childcare and transportation are often an impediment for female participation in classes, the program will include a class babysitter and funding for transportation costs to facilitate attendance.
These classes will help provide men and women with the skills needed to find jobs, and will allow them to better communicate with individuals outside of their community. Furthermore, these courses will help foster self-sufficiency in the refugees' lives. As Rayas, a Rohingya refugee in Malaysia, explains: "If the mother is educated, the children will also be educated through the mothers."