13th October 2018
MACSA welcomes the move by the government to allow stateless children to register in national schools as announced by the Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching.
Malaysia has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is particularly important when it comes to access to education for stateless children because it explicitly obligates States to implement this right, in accordance with the principles of non-discrimination and the child’s best interests.
This is also certainly a step forward in fulfilling our commitment to the 17 goals annunciated under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030, in adopting universal education for all. Citizenship requirement barrier has in the past restricted many stateless, migrant and refugees children from benefiting mandatory elementary education.
The government must however ensure fairness and establish transparency in registration process where there exist no discrimination of various ethnicities involved in the process. Given the fact that these group of people are often socially and economically exploited, there should be no unscrupulous practices of community leaders or representatives charging hefty fees for assisting in verification processes.
Flowing from this, we fully support any commitment by the government to provide accessibility into the deep jungles of our Malaysian lands in ensuring Malaysians are not denied of their rights to citizenship and registration by mere reason of their localities.
MACSA has always been committed to the cause of stateless citizens.
In our Joint Submission Stakeholders Information for the UPR Process 2018, we have reported on the position of the stateless communities in Malaysia and recommended for the state to observe the principles of international humanitarian law in regard to according the stateless communities access to education and healthcare.
MACSA has deployed 2 teams, the first, in July to August 2018, to evaluate the current state of the NGO-based free schools provided for the stateless children in East Coast of Sabah, and the second one, where currently a team of activists is delivering reading materials to children of Kg Tagupi Laut, District of Tambisan, Lahad Datu as well as providing pedagogy training for their teachers as part of our #TagupiMembaca campaign. Where empirical data have shown the importance of presence of books in a child’s life, MACSA has assisted the stateless community by assisting the development of community library to boost literacy among stateless people.
MACSA will continue to support the government’s commitment to deliver this right and believes that in the long run, the efforts will be able to assist in our nation’s social and economic development.
Azril Mohd Amin
Centre for Human Rights Research & Advocacy (CENTHRA) and Chairperson,
Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations in the Universal Periodic Review Process (MACSA)
Associate Professor Dr Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar
The International Women’s Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education (WAFIQ)