49,000 stateless Malaysian children are denied proper schooling!

Today, 2nd January 2013, millions of schoolchildren throughout the country will be attending the first day of the school year. 

Shockingly however, many Malaysian children of school-going age will not be able to attend school today due to denial of birth certificates or identity cards. Based upon census figures and population statistics, it is estimated that more than 49,000 children in Peninsular Malaysia are denied proper schooling for this reason. This huge figure amounts to a major education crisis in our nation. In Sabah and Sarawak, the figure could be even higher. Even the NRD's own figures state that about 50,000 eligible persons in Sabah are without documentation. This NRD figure is certainly an under-estimate.

It is shocking and inexcusable that children are being denied schooling in Malaysia. The BN government is aware of the problem, but has failed to resolve it. In Petaling Jaya, orphans Hari(12) and Haran(14) have never been to school because the NRD has refused to issue MyKads to them. Their homeless shelter continues to make desperate attempts to enroll them in school. In Pulai, Johor, 9 year old Sri Darchatinni who is without a birth dertificate has once again been denied entry this school year. In Ipoh, Perak, 10 year old Logeswaran Sarathrajan has never been to school despite his father's repeated attempts to enroll him.

Even those children without documents who are allowed to attend school by sympathethic school administrations face great obstacles in completing their education. Although they are Malaysian children born in this country, they are forced to register as foreigners and compelled to pay additional fees. They face problems in registering for exams and are not able to attend university. An example of this is the controversial case of 17 year old B Reshina from Sentul, who remains without documentation despite a public campaign on her behalf last year.

With up to 49,000 children affected in Peninsular Malaysia alone, the situation is critical. These children are citizens by operation of law by virtue of Article 14 of the Federal Constitution. The Federal Constitution forbids any child from being rendered stateless in Malaysia, by virtue of Second Schedule Part II 1(e). Why have Prime Minister Najib Razak and his government acted in contravention of the Federal Constitution? Why are children made to suffer? Najib, Education Minister Muhyiddin and the government must resolve this crisis with the greatest urgency; this matter must be made a top priority of the Federal government. All the resources of the Federal government must be used to resolve this crisis efficiently and immediately.

Issued by,

2nd January 2013

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