KOTA KINABALU: It is a slow process trying to teach children and adults from the Palau (sea gypsies) community who were rescued from begging in the streets a month ago.
Sabah Welfare Services Department director Jais Asri said this was because those rescued were still having a tough time adjusting to a proper home structure.
He said they were used to roaming around freely and the idea of having to sit in a house was somewhat new to these people.
"We are trying to teach them the 3Ms - to count, to read and to spell. We are also trying to instil basic education on cultures and how to live as a community," he said when contacted.
"But the progress is slow because there are adjustments from both sides to be made accordingly," said Jais, adding that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were also involved in teaching them these skills.
He said there were 53 people being placed at the temporary home for now, and this includes 30 children and their mothers who were rescued in an integrated operation on Feb 8.
The presence of stateless people and street beggars had been causing concern among road users and the local communities in Sabah for decades.
Jais said they would be heading to Sabah’s east coast areas of Tawau and Lahad Datu soon where cases of street beggars were reportedly rampant.
During the state assembly sitting on Nov 28 last year, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor had announced that the temporary shelter was the first step in solving this long-standing issue.
These people would be kept at the home for up to three months.
He said basic living skill training, informal religious teachings and other needed basic knowledge would be provided to these children before they were released back to their parents or guardians.
Hajiji had said that the parents or guardians would then be given a warning so that they make sure their children did not get involved in similar situations again.
He had explained that the move was in line with the 1989 Geneva conventions that protects children from exploitation and other matters and The Children Act where children were prohibited from begging and other negative activities that were detrimental to their welfare.