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2e: Child


Peamable


I:Child Participation


Despite Malaysia’s ratification of the UNCRC and relevant laws for child

participation, children’s voices are still unheard, if not silenced in Malaysia. The

culture of perceiving children as incapable of understanding or knowing about

matters that concern them is the root cause of the lack of empowerment for

children to participate in family, schools, community and child-related policy-

making decisions. Child participation in Malaysia today is limited to manipulation,

decoration and tokenism, the first three ‘rungs’ of Hart’s ladder of child

participation, which outlines increasing levels of power and control over

decision-making that adults can give to children. Children’s opinions are not

included in decisions on laws, policies and programmes that affect them.

Children’s freedom to express their views are not nurtured or institutionalised,

and safe spaces for them to speak out are lacking.

1. Empower children as child rights advocates and rights holders.

(Child Cluster, CSO Platform for Reform, Proposal 2E-1)

Uphold Articles 12-17 of the UNCRC, amplify and institutionalise child

participation in law and policy-making decisions, programme design, planning

and implementation.

2. Create awareness of children on child rights.

Include children from diverse and marginalised groups, in keeping with the UN

Children’s Fund (UNICEF) principle of leaving no child behind.

3. Establish the Rukun Tetangga, residential associations and educational

institutions as safe spaces to nurture, educate and empower children to

express their views.

4. Increase adult-initiated shared decision-making processes with children

and child-initiated and directed participation within the next five years.

5. Promote inclusivity and holistic participation in schools.

i. Allow children to choose the arts or science stream, sports and other

extracurricular activities.

ii. Enable all children from marginalised and diverse communities to access

national primary and secondary schools.

6. Encourage teachers to act as guides instead of instructors.


II: The Right to be Safe


From 2011 to 2018, there were 13,846 reported cases of child neglect, 10,046 of

physical abuse and 8,112 of sexual abuse, according to the Ministry of Women,

Family and Community Development (MWFCD) in 2019.

The existing laws, policies, guidelines and procedures to protect children are not

aligned with the UNCRC. For example, the Syariah law permits child marriage;

national security is cited as an excuse to arrest, detain and deport child refugees;

the Education Regulations Act 2006 allows corporal punishment; and child rights

and protection are poorly reflected in the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-

Smuggling of Migrants Act 2017.

Although a child protection system exists, and services include an integrated

system to respond to child abuse and neglect at major government hospitals

nation-wide, there are still gaps in accessing and receiving quality services in the

OSCC and Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) teams in major

government hospitals, planning, implementation and inter-agency coordination

between authorities, NGOs and private sectors on child protection prevention

and response mechanisms. With only 208 child protectors to manage child abuse,

neglect and exploitation cases nationwide, the ratio of child protectors to children

is 1:45,142. Existing services and helplines are not coordinated, insufficient and

inaccessible to marginalised communities, and absent in many states and districts.

Due to delayed and fragmented services, child survivors experience

revictimisation—they recount their horrific experiences repeatedly during

reporting and investigation; the trauma prevents them from reporting and

seeking further help, despite mandatory reporting.

Cases of child abuse are also underreported due to discrimination and

stigmatisation, gender stereotyping, social, cultural and religious barriers, and

poor awareness. Adding to this, the data on child abuse, neglect and exploitation

is collected on an ad hoc and siloed basis, lacking inter-agency coordination.

Specialised and competent judicial officers, prosecutors, enforcement officers,

social workers and service providers lack the knowledge and skills to support

child abuse, neglect and exploitation survivors with safe placements, case

management, medical, psychosocial, SRHR, alternative care, judicial and legal

support, and rehabilitation in a timely manner. Police are reluctant to investigate

child marriages, domestic violence and online crimes against children if a police

report has not been lodged, so early interventions and rescue efforts are

hindered. Specialised rehabilitation programmes for sex offenders are lacking,

thus increasing the risk of repeated offences.

Vulnerable, marginalised children who lack status and documentation–essentially

rendered invisible in society–lack access to the child protection system and

services, and are thus more susceptible to all forms of violence. They have been

trafficked into debt bondage situations, subjected to worst forms of child labour,

sexually exploited and sold into child marriages—little wonder that Malaysia is in

the bottom, Tier 3 Watch List of the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report of the

US Department of State.

A top-down approach in mitigating the problem has not helped. Policies,

programmes, services, and educational communication materials are not

developed with participation from children and families, including marginalised

communities, and therefore not age, gender, culturally and linguistically

appropriate, or disabled-friendly.

7. Synergise relevant national laws and policies to align with the UNCRC,

CEDAW, and other international legal instruments and frameworks.

Include online child protection in the National Child Policy and Action Plan.

8. Accept and implement UN Resolution 71/175 to end child marriage.

(Child Cluster, CSO Platform for Reform, Proposal 2E-2)

i. Raise and standardise the age of sexual consent and marriage to 18 years.

ii. Expand the National Strategy Plan in Handling the Causes of Child

Marriage to include comprehensive prevention and response

programmes, and make this accessible to all marginalised children, i.e.

refugees, stateless, undocumented.

9. Mainstream child safeguarding and prevention of sexual exploitation

and abuse into all organisations.

Institutionalise and capacitate these actions in all levels and fields, i.e.

government, health, education, community- and faith-based organisations,

NGOs, the private sector and all other stakeholders.

10. Establish an Independent Children’s Commissioner to report directly

to Parliament.

(Sallawahiu Mohd Salleh, IKRAM, Proposal 2E-3)

The Commissioner should have the powers to oversee, regulate and address all

forms of violence affecting children.

11. Institutionalise community-based and child-friendly curriculum on

child rights, child development, child protection, including mandatory

reporting and comprehensive sexuality education in the national and

private educational systems.

This includes learning centres, madrasahs, and faith- and community-based

organisations.

(Child Cluster, CSO Platform for Reform, Proposal 2E-2)

12. Increase funds and resources for the national inter-agency child

protection case and information system and services.

13. Establish an inter-agency child protection information and case

management system including a referral pathway for child protection

service providers and alternative care providers.

(Child Cluster, CSO Platform for Reform, Proposals 2E-4 & 2E-5)

i. Institutionalise a dedicated, confidential and non-discriminatory hotline

with adequate and trained responders.

ii. Institutionalise and amplify competent and specialised teams providing

rescue, legal, psychosocial, medical, rehabilitation and case management

services.

iii. Institutionalise child-centred processes, procedures and child-friendly

consultations and interview techniques in programmes, systems and

services across all fields, i.e. welfare, enforcement, legal, judiciary,

healthcare including mental health, SRHR, education, labour and

national security.

14. Map, enhance and make accessible child-friendly services for all

children and families.

15. Establish and monitor specialised alternative care arrangements for

orphans, unaccompanied and separated and at-risk children, focusing on

kinship care, foster care and community-based care.

16. Establish and monitor rehabilitation programmes for underage sex

offenders and children who manifest inappropriate risky sexual

behaviours.

17. Meaningfully engage children, families and communities, including

marginalised groups, to participate in decisions affecting them.

i. To promote girls to stay in school and complete their tertiary education,

and prevent child labour and trafficking, incentivise parents or caregivers

through financial aid or employment.

ii. Empower children, families and communities to keep themselves safe

from all forms of violence by institutionalising dialogue, awareness

raising and empowerment programmes nationwide.

iii. Ensure education communication, development and advocacy materials

are age, gender, culturally and linguistically appropriate, and disabled

friendly.

iv. Ensure children and families participate in decision-making processes on

law and policy development and reforms, planning, operations, resource

mobilisation, budget, designing, implementing and monitoring multi-

sectoral child protection prevention and response programmes and

services.

18. Amplify action-oriented research on violence against children and use

evidence-based data as a basis to advocate for law and policy reforms,

programmes on prevention and response.

19. Replicate Petaling Jaya’s Child Council initiative.

Amplify child councils in all states and districts, ensuring child representatives

from all diverse and marginalised groups.

20. Stop the arrest, detention and deportation of undocumented, refugee

and asylum-seeking and stateless children.

(Child Cluster, CSO Platform for Reform, Proposal 2E-5)


III: Barriers to Education


Non-citizen children of Malaysians, migrant, undocumented, stateless and

refugee children are not enrolled in national schools as they face severe

restrictions for admission to national schools due to their status. Parents are

forced to seek costlier alternatives and/or place their children in madrasahs or

learning centres where the quality of education and safety of children are not

monitored or regulated by the state authorities. The bureaucracy that surrounds

the admission of these children into the national school system often results in

children being admitted much later in the academic year and/or non-admittance.

Even after being admitted, the status of their enrolment is not permanent as

there is no system of automatic renewal; instead, they must repeat the admissions

process annually. These group of children in the national school system, learning

centres and madrasahs are ineligible for many schemes and aid, incurring

additional costs of education. In some cases, children are prohibited from sitting

for examinations and representing their schools in state and national-level

competitions.

School and learning centre closures and online education in the past two years

had resulted in children dropping out of schools and learning centres, failing to

catch up with their peers and increasing their risk to online child abuse, bullying,

exploitation and addiction. These children with little or no access to education

will be placed in higher grades without any assessment against their current

literacy levels. The current online education solution instructs teachers to

conduct their lessons virtually, without much thought or research given to the

methodology of online teaching which necessitates due consideration be given to

the attention span of children, screen time and continuous engagement of all

children including those from poor socio-economic backgrounds, disabled and

marginalised communities.

21. Amend the Education Act 1996 to allow all children in Malaysia equal

access to primary, secondary and tertiary education.

This is regardless of citizenship, documentation and social background status.

(Child Cluster, CSO Platform for Reform, Proposal 2E-6)

22. Extend welfare assistance programmes to all students regardless of

citizenship status.

Examples of such programmes are the Textbook Loan Scheme and

Supplementary Food Programme.

23. Standardise student enrolment.

24. Maintain and increase attendance and enrolment in schools.

i. The MOE must trace every child registered in school in 2020 and 2021,

and identify absentees and dropouts in all schools, learning centres and

madrasahs.

ii. Institutionalise a monitoring system across all schools, learning centres

and madrasahs to mitigate the risk of children dropping out of school

and ensure all children are enrolled in the school system in 2022.

iii. Every child registered in schools and learning centres and madrasahs

must have the means or capacity to access online schooling.

25. Enforce effective learning assessments.

Schools must enforce and conduct systematic and effective assessments on

children to identify their knowledge levels in each of the core subjects regardless

of the grades they are in. For early primary years, these assessments must include

reading, arithmetic, comprehension and motor skills. Based on the assessments,

vulnerable children should be allowed to drop down a grade or a standard by

extending the relevant support so that they can catch up. Schools must be

empowered to put these placements in effect regardless of whether parents, after

advisement, consent or not.

26. Strengthen the education syllabus and teaching methodology.

i. Include online and hybrid learning, consider the learning needs of

children with shorter attention spans, and children from disabled and

marginalised communities.

ii. Make available hybrid methods of teaching which allow for more

classroom participation, inter-class bonding and encourage or foster

student interactions.

27. Provide specialised support to vulnerable children.

i. Offer tutoring sessions three-to-five times a week for up to three

months, in groups of about three, either during regular school hours or

before or after school to enable vulnerable students to catch up

ii. Offer targeted teaching, literacy and numeracy programmes, especially

for vulnerable students and those from marginalised and disabled

communities.

iii. Make available access to financial aid, technological devices and the

internet for children from marginalised and vulnerable backgrounds to

access hybrid ways of learning.

iv. Reduce the student-teacher ratio.

28. Increase children’s protection and well-being.

i. Make available and amplify personal skills development, social skills and

physical education lessons in all schools, learning centres and

madrassahs.

ii. Promote and enable children to engage in more social interaction

activities in schools, learning centres and madrasahs.

iii. Make available trained child-friendly counsellors and teachers in all

schools, learning centres and madrasahs to institutionalise prevention

and response programmes and services to address children’s protection

and mental health issues, including mitigating the risk of online crimes

against children and internet addiction.

iv. Institutionalise child-safeguarding policies and procedures with

confidential mechanisms aligned with the national mandatory reporting

for children to safely report on abuse, neglect and exploitation in

schools, learning centres and madrasahs.

29. Institutionalise capacity building for all teachers on online, child-

friendly and inclusive education and teaching methodology.

(Srividhya Ganapathy, CRIB (Child Rights Innovation & Betterment) Foundation, Proposal 2E-7)

30. Institutionalise duty of care for all school workforce to prevent burnout

and inefficiencies.

(Child Cluster, CSO Platform for Reform, Proposal 2E-6)


IV: Barriers to Health


Non-citizen children of a Malaysian parent are designated as foreigners in public

medical facilities, which carry additional fees compared with citizens. These

children are made vulnerable when their guardian is unable to afford these higher

rates—only those born in Malaysia under the age of 12, holding a Malaysian birth

certificate and with at least one parent who is a citizen or permanent residence

holder, and those under the age of 18 adopted by Malaysian parents and with

certified adoption papers are able to enjoy the same rate as citizens. The

unaffordable cost of healthcare makes it difficult for parents and children to

access essential health services. COVID-19 has underscored the crucial need for

good access to healthcare; a child’s life can all too easily become endangered if

the cost of treatment is too expensive.

31. The health sector must provide for comprehensive and holistic care of

children and address all aspects of UNCRC, i.e. child survival, protection,

development and participation.

32. Amplify and institutionalise inter-agency coordination and

collaboration efforts to enable multi-sectoral responses to overcome cross-

cutting health issues.

For example, the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of children.

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For a better and fairer electoral system and to eliminate cronyism, corruption and

Index
First Name
Last Name
Organisation
Submission Date
1
Chee Han
Lim
Agora Society
17/10/2022
1
Swee Lin
Loh
Individual
28/09/2022
2
Laura Sui San
Kho
Mental Health Association of Sarawak (MHAS)
28/06/2022
1
Laura Sui San
Kho
Mental Health Association of Sarawak (MHAS)
28/06/2022
1
Laura Sui San
Kho
Mental Health Association of Sarawak (MHAS)
28/06/2022
1
Laura Sui San
Kho
Mental Health Association of Sarawak (MHAS)
28/06/2022
1
Laura Sui San
Kho
Mental Health Association of Sarawak (MHAS)
28/06/2022
1
Mohd Asraf Sharafi
Mohd Azhar
Individual
25/06/2022
1
Chee Han
Lim
CSO Health Cluster / People's Health Forum
14/06/2022