Media centre

News Releases

Reporters' toolkit

Ethical guidelines

Hot topics

Children and media

Calendar 2016

Press contacts


Statement on Children Without 2018 UNICEF report



Statement on Children Without 2018 UNICEF report

Attributable to Marianne Clark-Hattingh, UNICEF Representative in Malaysia

UNICEF is encouraged by the positive reactions that its study Children Without: A study of urban child poverty and deprivation in low-cost flats in Kuala Lumpur, has received since its launch, from government partners, community leaders, and the broader community.

In support of the Government’s commitment to human centred development and the eradication of poverty, the study was timed to feed into the mid-term review of the 11th Malaysia Plan. The country's economic progress has led to rapid urbanization, with more than two thirds of the population now living in urban areas. In demographic terms this makes it amongst the more urbanized countries and economies in the region. Whilst urbanization has been relatively well managed, as the study reveals, heterogeneity in urban communities masks inequities and severe deprivations. By focusing on children living in poor urban areas of Kuala Lumpur, this study shines a light on the situation of children living in poverty amongst us. The Children Without study provides policy makers with evidence to support targeted policies and interventions to address the findings and ensure that no child is left behind, in line with the government’s commitment to Agenda 2030 and Transformasi Nasional 2050.

Malaysia has made tremendous progress since Merdeka in uplifting the well-being of its people. A wide range of government programmes has been carried out to alleviate poverty and target the most disadvantaged population, including children. The UNICEF report on urban child poverty clearly demonstrates significant progress and impact in reducing poverty and improving the situation of children in Malaysia.

Compared to other countries facing high urbanisation rates, data shows that unemployment is not an issue amongst low-cost flat dwellers in Kuala Lumpur. The study shows that 90% of heads of households surveyed have full time jobs. They usually work harder for less, clocking up 48 hours a week as compared to the national average of 47 hours. Even so, they earn just RM9 an hour as compared to the national average of RM12 an hour.

On the education front, the report shows that 98% of children aged 7 to 17 years are enrolled in school, a testament that Malaysia has delivered universal access to primary and secondary education. Comparing the breakdown of grades received in PMR examinations against the national average, children living in PPR flats perform on par with the national average despite the challenges they face of lack of toys, books, a conducive place to study and access to nutritious food.

We were happy to see a growing debate on finding new ways to improve the well-being of children living in low-cost flats and are following with interest the emerging call for universal childcare allowance in line with one of the policy recommendations made in the report.

As the country enters the ‘last mile’ of poverty eradication, it is important to ensure meaningful outcomes for the most vulnerable children; one which requires even stronger policies, a coordinated social protection floor and partnerships. Additionally, we should all remember that eradicating poverty and ensuring no one is left behind is not only the responsibility of Government, but the collective responsibility of all - the private sector, civil society and individuals. 

Link to the report:

Link to photos by children:



 Email this article

Donate Now

unite for children