MIRI: Suhakam has been assured by the Education Ministry that parents living in very remote areas with no schooling facilities will not be penalised if they cannot send their kids to school.
Suhakam Commissioner Datuk Mohd Hamdan Adnan said the ministry’s mandatory education ruling from next year would not be enforced on these native parents as they were genuinely unable to send their kids to school because of logistic barriers that they could overcome on their own.
“The ministry has made it clear that for genuine cases, it would not enforce the ruling against these native folks as it is simply impossible for them to send their children to school.
“There are many areas in Sarawak and Sabah and also in a few peninsula states where there are no schools or boarding facilities. The nearest school or boarding school may be hundreds of kilometres away.
“The only way for their kids to be given education is for them to be sent out of these rural areas but most of them have no idea how to go about making such arrangements.
“The ministry said it was willing to be flexible for these special cases. However, this flexibility applies only to rural folks in certain states. There will be no flexibility in this ruling for places like Kuala Lumpur, Selangor or Penang where there is no excuse for not sending children to school,” he said in a telephone interview.
Suhakam has received appeals from native parents in Sarawak and Sabah and also from Orang Asli parents in Pahang and Perak to highlight their plight to the Education Ministry over the mandatory schooling issue.
Hamdan said Suhakam had met with the ministry’s officials to discuss these issues and the commission was happy that the ministry was very open in this matter.
“The ministry understands the issue involving the natives. The problem faced by these rural folks is very clear.
“The ministry, however, made it clear that as far as possible, all efforts must be made for children to be given education, even those from the very remote interior,” he said.
Suhakam appealed to district offices in states with high rural population density to conduct a census to find out how many rural parents faced such logistic problems.
He also urged the longhouse chiefs and village heads to help compile such statistics, noting that it was a pity that there was no current statistics to indicate how many rural kids were not able to attain education because of these logistic barriers.
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