A toll on young children

SOME 4,422 schoolchildren have lost at least one of their parents or a guardian due to the Covid-19 pandemic, says Datuk Seri Rina Harun.

The Women, Family and Community Development Minister told Parliament that her ministry is concerned with their welfare and has come up with several initiatives to assist each of them accordingly.“Based on statistics from the Education Ministry, as at Sept 13, 2021, a total of 4,422 schoolchildren have either lost a parent or guardian or both (parents) to Covid-19, making them orphans, since the pandemic hit our country,” she told Hannah Yeoh (PH-Segambut) during Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Yeoh wanted to know the number of children who were made orphans from the pandemic and what was to become of them.

Rina said 154 children had become orphans after losing both parents to Covid-19.

She said these children are eligible to receive financial assistance of RM200 each for those under the age of seven while those who are above seven years old will be given RM150 each.

“The financial assistance is to meet the living needs of both the children and their family members,” she said.

Rina added that the government had raised the maximum aid limit in Budget 2021 from RM400 per family to RM1,000.

She said that counselling services will also be offered to children who have lost their parents while psychological intervention will be conducted to ensure their well-being.

Yeoh also asked, in a supplementary question, for an explanation why 33 children were listed to have lost their parents to Covid-19 a month ago, and also asked how the minister would be coordinating data better across the different ministries.

Rina said the data did not only come from her ministry, but also others including the Education and Health ministries, as well as the police and the National Disaster Management Agency.

When asked what “trigger system” the ministry will be introducing to ensure such data would be more integrated while covering children who lost parents for other reasons, Rina said she will answer it through a parliamentary written reply.

“We are updating our data and our system,” she added.

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Orphans , Covid-19 , Parents , Guardians


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