All under one roof

SET up by the Education Ministry in 2013 to cater to street children, Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih’s (SBJK) purpose is to help undocumented children get a chance at education without having to pay a fee.

According to Zulkernai Fauzi, SBJK’s former principal who has just been promoted, SBJK is the only government school in Malaysia which houses students aged four to 19.

The school’s unique selling point, he says, is that preschool, primary, secondary and basic vocational school are all housed under one roof.

Classes start from 8am to 1pm while activities are from 2.30pm to 4pm on weekdays.

SBJK’s curriculum is based on the ministry’s guidebook on managing the co-curricular activities and the 1Student 1 Sports policy.

“We do not follow the mainstream school curriculum as it’s more focused on academics, whereas our students here aren’t academically inclined but are talented in other aspects.

“So we need to cater to their needs and learning style. This means that all our activities follow our students’ capabilities, willingness to learn and facilities that the school is able to provide,” he said, adding that fun and flexible learning is used to encourage students to keep coming back.

However, students who are deemed able to sit for the Form Three Assessment (PT3), Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), and Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) would be given the chance to do so.

Children eligible to enrol in SBJK must be undocumented children, orphans, long-time school drop-outs or homeless children.

Given that over 95% of the students at SBJK are stateless due to their parents’ citizenship status - with only a few having birth certificates - Zulkernai said the school would help whenever it can to seek out the biological parents so that they can aid in getting proper and complete documentation for their children.

In addition to helping out with documentation and lessons, SBJK also makes sure the children under its care do not go hungry.

The school provides four meals a day to make sure the children are not hungry.

Zulkernai also set up a foodbank in the school earlier this year to store food items such as biscuits, drinks, rice and canned food to distribute to the children on Fridays.

“This is to ensure they have at least something to eat over the weekend when the school is not operating,” he says.

The school will be relocating to a new building (right next to its current one) in May 2020, while a hostel would be built next to it in 2021.

Both new blocks would be able to accommodate 200 students.
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