Party vice president Surendran leads seven children in a protest at the Education Ministry.
PUTRAJAYA: PKR today urged the Education Ministry to work with the National Registration Department to ensure that children without acceptable citizenship documents are allowed to enrol in schools.
PKR vice president N Surendran said these “stateless students” were not at fault for their condition of being without birth certificates, MyKads or other documents attesting to their Malaysian citizenship.
“The government should take action and not try to pass the buck to the opposition,” he said today after leading a protest at the Education Ministry in Putrajaya. He was accompanied by seven stateless students.
The seven, ranging in age from seven to 14, were not able to pursue their education because they had no proper documentation, Surendran said.
Five of them are orphans. Of the other two, one was not allowed to enrol in Standard One because his birth certificate was incomplete. Both his parents are Malaysians with valid MyKads.
Surendran claimed that in Peninsular Malaysia alone, about 49,000 children were deprived of education for being stateless.
“Sabah and Sarawak would definitely add to the statistics,” he said.
More than an hour after Surendran and the children had waited for them, Education Ministry officials emerged from their offices and said they were willing to help the children register as students so that they could start their schooling as soon as possible.
However, there were two conditions imposed: either parent of each of the children has to be a Malaysian, and a village head must verify this in writing.
“Once these conditions are fulfilled, they can start schooling,” said Roziah Abdullah, the ministry’s deputy director of schools management.
Earlier, patience ran thin and tempers flared when no one from the ministry appeared bothered to meet Surendran and the children.
Their request to meet Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was also turned down. They were told that all ministry officials were attending a briefing session at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.
Later, speaking to the media, Surendran urged Muhyiddin to take responsibility for the misery of stateless students.
“It is a crisis situation in the education of these children,” he said. “It is a national education crisis.”