KUALA LUMPUR, Feb. 6 — A new policy requiring stateless children in Malaysia to produce passports in order to be enrolled in local schools violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), said Lawyers for Liberty.
The rights advocacy group criticised the federal government for the policy, saying this effectively prevented stateless children from obtaining an education.
“Malaysia, having ratified the CRC, recognises the right of children to education on the basis of equal opportunity, as per Article 28. Hence, despite the reservation to Article 28(1)(a) on making primary education compulsory and available free to all, this does not abrogate the government’s duty to give equal access to education to stateless children.
“The government must at all times bear in mind its obligation under Article 3 of the CRC, that states that the best interests of the child, including those who are stateless, must be the primary consideration.
“The importance of education is undeniable, and any consideration of their best interest would of course include the opportunity to receive the necessary education,” LFL said in the statement.
It was previously reported that stateless children adopted by Malaysian parents were now required to produce passports in order to attend local schools.
The Malaysian Bar has since urged the Education Ministry and the government to review the policy, saying both should ensure consistency in such policies at both the federal and state levels.
Today, LFL suggested that a lack of clarity from the government could be behind policies on school enrolment varying by state.
“We attribute this to the lack of a clear policy by the federal government, where certain states have apparently imposed additional requirements for enrolment, such as the production of passports, before a stateless child can study in government schools.
“We thus urge the government to honour its obligations under the CRC by immediately streamlining and clarifying its policy in order to accord equal access to education to stateless children and ensure its compliance in all states. We must give stateless children a fighting chance to survive or even thrive and not cause them any further undue hardship,” they added.
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