Education #Foreverychild in Malaysia

children sitting around teacher listening

What is the challenge?

Education is the right of every child and is an important part of nation building. A good education is the foundation for a child’s success later in life and a common factor in ending cycles of poverty. In a UNICEF commissioned report (2017), it was found that a head of household with education was more likely to see a higher household income. If a child was able to complete at least secondary schooling, their income prospects were much better.

We know education is a game-changer. But are all children able to access education? Despite efforts by the government, and society, there are still children who are unable to go to school or fully benefit from our education systems.

Some of the reasons why children in Malaysia cannot access education include:

  • Lack of documentation – children without birth certificates are not able to enroll in national schools;
  • Children with disabilities – children with mental and behavioural disabilities are more likely to be out of school compared to children with physical disabilities as national schools are not equipped to be inclusive
  • Orang Asli and indigenous children – many indigenous children are not able to go to school because either the schools are located too far from where they are; they do not have documentation; they cannot afford the expense of sending a child to school; or because of language barriers that hinder their progress in national schools.

How can we fix this?

Every child has a right to go to school. Regardless of whether he/she is Malaysian; or if he/she has documentation.

This is brief glimpse of what UNICEF does in Malaysia towards the goal of education #Foreverychild.

  • More information is needed on exactly how many children aren’t attending school and why. UNICEF is currently working a report to document out of school children.
  • As shown in our study on Childhood disability in 2017 [link to KAP], many children with disabilities are not in school due to stigma and schools not knowing how to include children with different needs. UNICEF works with local organisations to push for more inclusive classrooms. This includes a call for teacher trainings and convening stakeholders to discuss and agree on systems/policies for inclusive education.
  • To enable access to basic education for indigenous children, UNICEF is working with local groups to encourage mother-tongue education. UNICEF also piloted an alternate learning centre in Kampung Numbak to cater to children in the area.  


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