SEREMBAN: Little G. Darshana, who was denied enrolment in a public school last week, could not contain her excitement as she walked through the main entrance of SK Taman Rasah Jaya here to begin Year One.
The seven-year-old, a non-citizen who was taken in by her legal adoptive parents when she was just a few days old, was a picture of joy as she grabbed her schoolbag from mother V. Malliga, 48, and walked past the security guards at the main gate.
“I am so happy to be able to go to Darjah Satu. I have been waiting more than a week,” she said in a mix of Bahasa Malaysia and English.
Before entering the school grounds, she hugged Malaysian Civil Society president Andrew Raju, who highlighted her problem to The Star.
“Thank you, Uncle Raju. I promise to study hard,” she said as she waved to Raju and her parents.
Darshana was not allowed to enrol in a public school due to her non-citizen status.
The Immigration Department had, through a circular dated Dec 28, told all schools that non-citizen children would have to produce a passport before being allowed to enrol in a government school.
This left many children, including some who have studied in public schools for years, in limbo.
Darshana’s father B. Ganesan, 46, said a friend gave the girl to them as he and his wife had been childless since they married in 2000.
“We are so grateful to all those who helped us because our little girl is able to go to school today,” said Ganesan, a lorry driver.
A teary-eyed Malliga said she was unable to sleep the whole night in anticipation of sending Darshana to school.
“I am so happy I won’t have to make excuses to Darshana for not sending her to school.
“I will send her there every morning on my motorcycle and pick her up during my lunch break,” said Malliga, a labourer.
Raju appealed to the Education Ministry to waive the RM120 annual fee that non-citizens like Darshana are required to pay to enrol in government primary schools.
“Darshana has been legally adopted and is awaiting her citizenship papers.
“The fee should only be imposed on non-citizens with passports and whose parents are foreigners here,” he said.
Earlier, Prime Minister's Department Special Implementation Task Force manager G.K. Anandan said non-citizen and stateless children who have been unable to enrol in government schools since the beginning of the new term last week will be able to do so in the next few days.
“We are working on a permanent solution. An announcement will be made in the next few days,” he said when met at the state Education Department here.
Anandan, who is also special officer to Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, said parents and guardians of these children should not be worried as the Government is committed to ensuring that all children have access to basic education.
Anandan helped register Darshana at the state Education Department here before she was allowed to enrol at SK Taman Rasah jaya.