Barriers to enrolment in national schools for non-citizen children of Malaysians

By:

Bina Ramanand

Affiliations:

Association of Family Support and Welfare Selangor and KL (Family Frontiers)

Policy Code:

3f Education

Problem Statement:

Non-citizen children of Malaysians faced challenges in accessing public education, including the additional barrier of submitting a yearly application to enrol in national schools. Applications are more often than not rejected and parents are forced to seek costlier alternatives for primary and secondary education.

Bureaucracy in the admission of these children into the public school system often results in children being admitted months after the academic year has begun. This is also an annual process as it does not guarantee automatic admission the following year. On average, a child will lose 1.8 years of education throughout their primary and secondary education.

Non-citizen children in the public school system are also ineligible for many schemes and aid initiatives, such as the free food programme and textbook loan schemes. Additionally, in some cases children are prohibited from representing their schools in state and national-level competitions.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

Non-citizen children of Malaysians should be treated equally

Proposal of Solution:

Education policies concerning non-citizen children with either parent Malaysia should be reviewed and reformed. This includes the following policy recommendations:
1. Amend provisions under the Education Act 1996 that limit public schools to citizens, and allow all children in Malaysia equal access to basic education regardless of citizenship status. This includes stateless and undocumented children.
a. Uphold the directive made by the Ministry of Education in 2018 under the ‘Zero Rejection Policy’ that allowed non-citizen and stateless children of Malaysian parents or guardians to register by requiring only relevant documents such as the child’s birth certificate, adoption papers or a court order.
b. Amend the directive by the Ministry of Education in 2018 to remove the two year limit on filing documentation or citizenship with the National Registration Department.
2. Extend services such as the Textbook Loan Scheme, Supplementary Food Programme and health programmes to all students regardless of citizenship status.
3. Establish and uphold a standard operating procedure for student enrolment in every school district across Malaysia.

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