KOTA KINABALU: Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations in the Universal Periodic Review Process (MACSA) has welcomed the move by the government to allow stateless children to register in national schools as announced recently by the Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching.
MACSA chairman Azril Mohd Amin said Malaysia had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was particularly important when it came to access to education for stateless children because it explicitly obligated 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 refugee children from benefiting mandatory elementary education.
“The government must however ensure fairness and establish transparency in the registration process where there exist no discrimination of various ethnicities involved in the process.
“Given the fact that this 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,” Azril said in a statement here yesterday.
He said MACSA had always been committed to the cause of stateless citizens in Malaysia and in their Joint Submission Stakeholders Information for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process 2018, they had 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 providing the stateless communities access to education and healthcare.
He said MACSA deployed a team from July to August this year to evaluate the current state of the NGO-based free schools provided for the stateless children in the East Coast of Sabah, and another team of activists is currently 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.
He said empirical data had shown the importance of the presence of books in a child’s life, and therefore MACSA had assisted the stateless community by assisting the development of community library to boost literacy among stateless people.
According to Azril the organisation also fully supported any commitment by the government in providing accessibility into the deep jungles of this country in ensuring Malaysians were not denied of their rights to citizenship and registration by mere reason of their localities.
“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,” he added. — Bernama