Excluded and invisible children
Despite Malaysia’s achievements in health and education, tens of thousands of children living in urban slums and rural, remote communities endure troubled and painful childhoods due to economic, social and rural-urban disparities.
These "invisible children" include Orang Asli and Sabah and Sarawak's indigenous children, children with disabilities, migrant and stateless children.
Situation in Malaysia*
§ Each year, some 7,000 children die before their fifth birthday due mainly to preventable causes such as pneumonia and food poisoning (septicaemia).
§ Only 1 in 7 infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life as recommended by WHO/UNICEF Guidelines for Infant Feeding.
§ An estimated 200,000 children in Malaysia ages 6-12 years old do not attend school.**
§ Some 14% of Orang Asli children of primary-school age do not attend school. More than half drop out before year 6.
§ Close to 120,000 children have not mastered basic reading, writing and counting skills.
Living on the margins of society, with challenging access to basic services because of poverty, geography, a parent’s drug abuse, or lack of formal identification papers, these children risk poor health and malnourishment and grow up without an education to escape the poverty trap.
Hungry, impoverished and without the benefit of an education, children are easily forced into petty crimes and lured by unscrupulous adults into gangs, drug peddling and sex work.
Without focused attention, these children will remain trapped and forgotten in childhoods of neglect and violence, with devastating consequences for their long-term well-being and the progress of their communities.