Projek Didik Semua
Statelessness among children is a critical issue of utmost importance by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) under SUHAKAM.
Stateless children are deprived of their right to education as current laws only allow citizen children to attend public schools
Non-citizen children on the other hand are burdened with expensive school fees or forced to attend alternative schools which are unable to provide standardized and quality education.
According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 1331 Alternative Learning Centres (ALCs) in Peninsular Malaysia providing primary education to refugee children.
Some of these ALCs accept children without documentation, but not all do.
There is no data specific to ALCs targetted at stateless children.
In West Malaysia, there are less than 152 ALCs catered specifically for stateless children.
Education is a fundamental human right enshrined under Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Under Article 26, it is stipulated that all persons shall have the right to free and compulsory education, at least in the elementary stages.
Projek Didik Semua
Bait Al Amanah in collaboration with Wiki Impact has put together Projek Didik Semua, an advocacy movement that calls for the integration of stateless children into the national education system with the end goal of preserving their fundamental rights to education.
We believe that Malaysia must fulfil its obligation as a member of the international community by ensuring equal opportunity and access to education for stateless children. Especially now with Malaysia’s position in the United Nations Human Rights Council for the term 2022-2024.
In line with SDG 4, Bait Al Amanah as a member of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) believes that all boys and girls deserve the right to complete, free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education.
Opening up public schools to stateless children.
We propose increased access to education for stateless children through administrative changes within the education system. This goal is to be reached by supporting and facilitating the opening of public schools for stateless children in selected areas.
Considering the government’s constraint to coordinate such a large pool of students into formal education, it is suggested that the pilot project focuses on stateless children at Projek Perumahan Rakyat Lembah Subang and Sembulan, Sabah.
For the pilot project, we propose to target a small group of lower primary children aged 7-9 years old. We also suggest that stateless children should be allowed to attend formal classes during the weekends and to sit for national/school-based assessments. The children should be allowed to use school facilities such as textbooks, laboratories, classrooms etc. Teachers from nearby schools such as SK Lembah Subang and Sekolah Kebangsaan Sembulan can volunteer for this programme to carry out classes for the children. To deal with concerns over government’s resources, we propose that third parties such as non-governmental organizations or private corporations should be given the option to finance these children’s education in public schools. Furthermore, volunteer teaches would also be paid a small monthly stipend for their services by government supported third party organizations.
The issue of application for citizenship has many intricacies and nuances of its own. We understand that analysing each application for citizenship of these children and subsequently processing their application to access education is a heavy task. Our proposed model allows the government to preserve a child’s right to education through administrative changes to access formal education and help them break out of generational discrimination. We believe that the long and arduous citizenship application process should not be a deterrent to a child’s right to education. Through Projek Didik Semua, we aim to cultivate interest in the children to attend school and learn.
PPR Lembah Subang 1
On ground visit at PPR Lembah Subang 1
Our project lead, Simraatraj Kaur speaking to affected families at PPR Lembah Subang 1
The changes to the Malaysian education system which have been discussed above are substantial in nature and will need continuous cooperation from all parties to launch this project. The right to education is a matter of concern for us all, and of consequence to society as a whole and to economic development. Education is an important factor in allowing stateless children to shape their lives and break out of the cycle of poverty by providing them with dignified job opportunities.