PETALING JAYA: Parents’ groups have welcomed the government’s move to allow stateless children to enter public schools, but criticised the education ministry for not coming out openly on the issue despite a circular issued eight years ago.
They said they were not aware of the 2009 circular by the education ministry that allows stateless children to study in government schools.
National Parent-Teacher Associations Consultative Council (PIBGN) president Prof Mohamad Ali Hassan said it was not aware such a circular existed.
“This should have been made known during the time it was issued (in 2009),” he said.
Malacca Action Group for Parents chairman Mak Chee Kin said he had not heard of the circular until FMT informed him.
“It looks like good news for stateless children as they can go to school now.”
Mak was puzzled why the public was not made aware of such an important circular.
“Why was the ministry not doing its job of informing schools and parents about this circular?”
Since there was such a circular, he suggested that the education ministry resend it to schools.
“It takes one stateless boy to open up the ministry’s eyes on the existence of this circular,” Mak said.
The issue of stateless children seeking an education came up when the media highlighted the plight of seven-year-old Tan Yao Chun, who was born in Thailand to a Myanmar mother. His father, a Malaysian, failed to register his birth at the Malaysian embassy in that country.
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairperson Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said heads of schools should be more proactive in seeking guidelines to solve problems faced by stateless children.
Education Ministry director-general Khair Mohamed Yusof, in a text message to FMT, had confirmed a copy of the March 11, 2009 circular that said children born to a Malaysian parent, but without proper documentation, can be enrolled in government schools.
These children will need a verification letter from the village headman that they are children of Malaysian citizens.
The circular was signed by former director-general Alimuddin Mohd Dom.
Kedah Menteri Besar Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, on Wednesday, said children in Kedah could enrol in primary school even if they did not have birth certificates. - Mkini