‘Don’t deny refugees education’

KUALA LUMPUR: Policies denying refugees or stateless children access to formal education should be reviewed to break the generational cycle of poverty among refugees and stateless people, says Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negri Sembilan Tuanku Muhriz Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir.

“Government policies has denied these children access to formal education. This policy results in a generational cycle of poverty and destitution which imposes a burden on society.

“If these children are given access to education they can eventually be able to fend for themselves and be independent of governmental assistance,” the Negri Sembilan Ruler added. In a royal address for the Human Rights Day 2022 Forum, Tuanku Muhriz said the review would be a significant step to benefit the country.

He said some civil society organisations (CSOs) and NGOs had taken up the call to provide assistance to this group and managed to create some success stories.

Tuanku Muhriz said one such example was the initiative taken by Yayasan Chow Kit – a non-profit organisation that operates a crisis and drop-in centre providing meals, therapy, case management and educational programmes for at risk children who live around Chow Kit in Kuala Lumpur.

“To date, the Yayasan (Chow Kit) has over 100 successful youths who are able to pursue tertiary education or become owners of business enterprises.

“This success is due to some relaxation of the government policy,” he added, according to Bernama.

Tuanku Muhriz noted that the Education Ministry had registered 15 refugee learning centres as private education institutions since 2017.

“But much more needs to be done. According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) there are some 40,000 refugee and asylum seeker children registered in Malaysia,” he said.

On the issue of poverty, particularly with regard to the hard core poor and the homeless, Tuanku Muhriz said the government had taken various initiatives but could do much more.

He said several CSOs had stepped up to provide care for these groups but holistic and long-term solutions were needed.

He hoped that government agencies would work together with these CSOs to overcome issues of destitution and homelessness.

Tuanku Muhriz also called on the government to interact with CSOs and NGOs and review some of the policies.

“With these steps, the country can move closer to ensuring that no one is left behind,” he added.

On health, Tuanku Muhriz urged the authorities to review the accessibility by marginalised groups to healthcare facilities.

He said over the years, the government had done much to alleviate the lives of marginalised persons while CSOs and NGOs on their own initiatives filled the gaps to improve further the livelihood of this group.

Human Rights Day is celebrated on Dec 10 every year and the theme this year is “Strengthening and Enhancing Human Rights Towards Leaving No One Behind”.

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