Multi-pronged approaches to solve stateless kids issue

Fatimah (centre) addressing a press conference.

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, Feb 19: There are 766 stateless students enrolled in schools across Sarawak this year, and the state is currently working to solve their citizenship issue.

Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah said her ministry was also reaching out to school administrators to provide information on former stateless students.

The state government, in collaboration with the National Registration Department (NRD) and the Education Department, are also reaching out to parents, guardians and community leaders to identify children with citizenship issues.

This is to help ensure that stateless and undocumented children could get their birth certificates and citizenship status.

“We will try as many ways as possible to solve this issue, but we also need initiative from the parents and community leaders to provide us with the information.

“We also need help from the school administrators to provide information on students and former students without proper identification documents,” she told a press conference after chairing an inter-agency meeting on stateless and undocumented children here today.

She reminded that although the Education Ministry had introduced a policy allowing all stateless and undocumented children to attend school, their citizenship status needs to be tackled, nevertheless.

This could help dropouts (due to identification document issuea) to return to school as well as help school leavers to pursue tertiary education.

Fatimah (front, left) poses for the media before chairing the inter-agency meeting at her office at Baitulmakmur Complex in Kuching.

On registering stateless and undocumented children in public schools, she reminded that one of the parents must be Malaysian with a confirmation letter from a the community leader.

At the same time, she called on parents, school administrators and community leaders to collaborate with the NRD to register cases of stateless children and those without proper documentation.

Fatimah also advised parents to apply for their children’s birth certificate and complete the citizenship application form under article 15A of the Federal Constitution.

“Having a birth certificate does not mean automatic approval of Malaysian citizenship. They need to confirm that one of the parents is Malaysian.

“At the same time, the parents need to submit their marriage certificate that is recognised by the Malaysian government, be it civil marriage, syariah or through local customs,” she said on other requirements for citizenship applications.

On Friday (Feb 22), Fatimah will lead a delegation comprising officers representing various government agencies and stakeholders to pay a courtesy call on Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in Putrajaya to discuss the stateless and undocumented children issue in Sarawak. — DayakDaily