By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Oct 12: Beginning next year, stateless children below 18 years old can enrol in government schools with just their adoption papers or adoption court order.
Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said the move was in tandem with the government’s desire to make education accessible to all children, including stateless ones.
“We (Education Ministry) had a meeting about last week, and it was decided that we are going to simplify the (enrolment) process. This means that stateless children who have birth certificates where one of their parents is a Malaysian would be able to use that to enrol into government schools.
“If they don’t have birth certificates, like they are adopted, parents can use their adoption court order or the adoption certificates to enrol them in government schools,” Teo told reporters after the opening ceremony of SMJK Kuching High Gate of Alumni here this morning.
She said a notice would be circulated to the National Registration Departments (NRD) across the country soon so that the simplified enrolment process could be carried out next year.
Teo added that as of 2016, the number of stateless children below the age of 18 in Malaysia was about 300,000.
“That figure was provided by the then Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi,” she said, adding that she did not have the current figure at hand.
While the children would be able to go to government schools, Teo advised their parents to register their stateless children with the NRD for proper documentation within two years.
She said the Education Ministry could only help them simplify the enrolment process, which would also allow them to sit for public examinations from UPSR all the way to STPM, but after finishing school, the children would need proper documents to further their studies or find employment.
“We can simplify the process for them to go to school, but when they finish schooling and look for jobs, it would be difficult. So we also want parents to play their part to take the initiative. If no documents at all, they should do it (register stateless children with NRD) within two years,” said Teo.
If parents have difficulties getting the required paperwork to register their stateless children, Teo suggested they get help from their local community leaders like Ketua Kampung and Penghulu or from their elected representatives. — DayakDaily