New school gives vulnerable children hope for a bright future
KG. NUMBAK, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, 26 March 2011 – Together with the Ministry of Education, the Malaysia Teachers’ Foundation and the Sabah Task Force, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today launched an education centre in the coastal village of Kg Numbak, Kota Kinabalu to provide basic education for 300 refugee and undocumented children in the village.
Some 600 people, mostly from the community, participated in the celebrations to mark the beginnings of a bright future for these vulnerable children living 7.5km from Kota Kinabalu. Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Education Dr. Haji Mohd Puad bin Zarkashi officiated the event together with Malaysia Teachers’ Foundation chair Tan Sri Dato' Haji Alimuddin bin Haji Mohd Dom, Sabah Task Force Director Datuk Misri bin Barham and UNICEF Representative to Malaysia, Mr. Hans Olsen.
“We are delighted to be part of this unique partnership with the Government, civil society and the community to uphold the right to education for the children of Kg. Numbak,” said Mr. Olsen. “This is an important milestone for all of us, and one which we hope will serve as a model that can be replicated to meet the needs of many other undocumented children in Malaysia.”
Vulnerable to exploitation
While Malaysia has made remarkable national progress in realising universal primary education for her children, a 2009 study by the Ministry of Education’s Educational Planning and Research Division (EPRD) discovered that 43,973 undocumented children aged 7 to 17 years old were not benefitting from schooling.
UNICEF’s global experience shows that out-of-school children are generally at greater risk of exploitation and violence. Many are forced out on the streets at a much younger age to earn a living, and often experience violence and abuse. Working on the streets, these children may also be easily lured into gangs, and exploited by unscrupulous adults for sex work and drug peddling.
“Children who cannot read and write have far fewer opportunities to seek self-improvement, especially in the increasingly modernised and globalised world they live in today,” added Mr. Olsen. “Without an education, they are robbed of the opportunity to achieve their full potential, and everyone loses in the end.”
Breaking the cycle of poverty
The Kg Numbak Education Centre, a first of its kind initiative by UNICEF in collaboration with Malaysia’s Ministry of Education, the Sabah Special Task Force and the Teacher Foundation, will follow the national curriculum, taught by four volunteer teachers from the community. Reading and writing will be emphasised in the initial stages, while vocational courses such as sewing, carpentry and boat making will be introduced later.
In addition to providing education for children, there are also plans to make use of the Centre to provide adult classes, especially for women. The move is in line with the Education for All Goal to achieve a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015 and ensure equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.
“Education is not just a human right, it is also helps to end the cycle of poverty for children, their families and their communities,” Mr. Olsen stressed. “Education is the stepping stone to healthier and more productive communities necessary for successful nation building.”
Right to Education & Education for All
Primary Education: Situation In Malaysia
Ministry of Education, Malaysia
Sabah Special Task Force, Malaysia
Teachers Foundation Malaysia
For more information, please contact:
Indra Kumari Nadchatram