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Giving every child access to basic education


© UNICEF Malaysia/2013/H. Balasundaram

Equity in education provides every child an opportunity to reach their full potential

KG. BAHAGIA, Sandakan, Sabah, 21 September 2013 – Together with the Ministry of Education and the Federal Special Task Force (Sabah/Labuan), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) launched the second education centre in Sabah for undocumented children, the Kg. Bahagia Learning Centre, here in Sandakan today.

Malaysia's Deputy Minister of Education Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching officiated at the event, together with the Director of the Federal Special Task Force (Sabah/Labuan), Datuk Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Muhammad Salleh and UNICEF Deputy Representative to Malaysia, Dr. Victor Karunan.

The Kg. Bahagia Learning Centre, located in a village just off the coast of Sandakan, marks yet another educational milestone for UNICEF and its partners in Malaysia.

Ensuring equal access for every child

"In Malaysia, undocumented children have difficulty accessing services such as health and education. Whether the issue is legal documentation, status, poverty, or distance, these children face a childhood without a single day in school. Others spend their childhood on the streets or working as labourers whereas others are exposed at an early age to social ills like glue sniffing, drugs, petty crime or face the risk of abuse," stated Dr. Karunan.

"An alternative route to education for those who do not have access to the national education system, especially in Sabah, is essential in order to fulfill children's rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and to achieve Education for All (EFA) objectives and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015," added Dr. Karunan.

The Kg Bahagia Learning Centre replicates a similar model to the Kg. Numbak Learning Centre in Kota Kinabalu to meet the needs of undocumented children. Both learning centres follow the National Curriculum with emphasis on reading, writing, arithmetic, Islamic Studies and life skills. Supported by UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Federal Special Task Force (Sabah / Labuan) and the generous contribution of the IKEA Foundation, the center in Sandakan begun its operations in June 2012, and has provided basic education for more than 1, 200 undocumented children.

Education – The right of every child

The CRC upholds that all children have the right to primary education. Education is critical for the realisation of the MDGs as it raises economic productivity, reduces poverty, lowers infant and maternal mortality as well as helps improve nutritional status and health.

"As champions for children, we all share the commitment to ensure that every child, whether he or she is from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu or Kg. Bahagia, is given the right to learn. When we ensure that marginalised children have access to a rights-based quality education, we lay the foundation for growth, transformation and opportunity not only for children today, but for generations to come," concluded Dr. Karunan.


For further information, please contact:

Indra Kumari Nadchatram,
UNICEF Media, Malaysia
(+6.03) 2095 9157
+6012 292 6872

Sasha Surandran,
UNICEF Media, Malaysia
(+6.03) 2095 9154 ext. 2236
+6019 658 5160





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