KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) urged the Parliament today to make necessary legislative amendments to ensure all children were given the right to receive public education regardless of their citizenship status.
Its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said in a statement that remedial steps must be taken by the Education Ministry to rectify and streamline existing policies to enable immediate access to education for all children.
“Stateless, undocumented, and refugee children will continue to be deprived of their right to access public education on an equal footing with other children.
“We have received and continue to receive many complaints from families of children who were denied public education, and it is unacceptable that a distinction of their right be made on the basis of their citizenship status,” said Razali.
Suhakam was referring to Putrajaya’s announcement that only stateless children whose citizenship applications are pending would be allowed to attend public schools.
It said the consequences from the decisions would be severe and detrimental to the fair and equitable development of all children.
Razali said in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, all children, regardless of their citizenship, must have the right to access free and compulsory primary education, and this must be implemented to suit the best interests of the child.
“Suhakam wishes to recall the government’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ‘leaving no one behind’ with the aim to improve the quality of life for all,” he said.