ID key to a bright future

Feeling right at home: Children seen eating and playing on the sidewalk at Lorong Haji Taib in the Chow Kit area in Kuala Lumpur. — Bernama

Documents vital for street kids to better themselves

KUALA LUMPUR: It is almost 1am and yet children can be seen laughing and playing around Lorong Haji Taib 2, which is located at the infamous Chow Kit area.

While it is a common sight for those familiar with the area, outsiders may find it distressing and assume the children are directionless and lack the potential to grow-up into successful adults.

However, in reality, the children are well-disciplined and intelligent with some of them even making it into institutions of higher learning, said Zamzuri Abdullah who is principal of Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih (SBJK).

“For example, when they sing the Negaraku, they stand up straight and in an orderly manner. They are also polite when communicating with others,” said Zamzuri who has been heading the school for the past five months.

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SBJK schools are the government’s initiative in providing equal education for all including dropouts, street kids and undocumented children.

Zamzuri added the children attending the SBJK in Chow Kit are resilient in spirit with many of them showing dedication towards changing their lives and achieving their dreams.

More and more parents are also sending their children to these schools, indicating their (the parents’) commitment in ensuring their offspring will not inherit their shackles of poverty, he said.

Sadly, many of the children attending the school are stateless and in need of government assistance to obtain identification documents which their parents had failed to do upon their birth.

Zamzuri told Bernama the SBJK in Chow Kit has 152 pupils aged from four to 19, with a majority of them not having any identification documents.

Some of the undocumented students are either orphans, homeless, or facing various other social problems.

The school principal said it is essential to address the statelessness issue so that the children could continue their studies without any obstacles.

According to him, four outstanding former SBJK students from Chow Kit were not able to apply for public university admissions online due to lack of identification documents.

The school and Education Ministry managed to facilitate a special admission application process by submitting exam results and highlighting the potential for one of the students.

“Alhamdulillah, the student was finally accepted and is now pursuing a degree. We are also in the process of applying for the student’s identity documents from the National Registration Department,” he explained.

He said the student was one of the rare lucky ones to receive the required help but there were countless others who became victims of circumstances as their problem could not be countered.

Zamzuri’s major concern is that the children may end-up mired in crime and social problems if they cannot complete their education due to not having identity documents.

“They can be manipulated by others, for example gangsters can get them involved in robberies, murders and drug dealing.

“They could also be oppressed by employers and not paid fair wages because of their status,” said Zamzuri, adding such circumstances can pressure them into turning to a life of crime.

He reiterated it is crucial to ensure that the children are documented in order for them to leave behind their current squalid lives and reach for greater heights.

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