My friends Yi Liang and Keisha are trying to get a young girl of their acquaintance into primary school in Malaysia. Despite having a Malaysian Birth Certificate, she is considered “stateless” due to her parents’ citizenship issues (they are both foreigners; her mother is here on a work permit while her father has disappeared) and therefore isn’t allowed entry into a government primary school. Her only options are to be sponsored into a private school (difficult, as her family is not very well-off) or adoption (which may be hard on her and her mother).
As they were trying to look for options, they were given the runaround by government ministries, officials, and schools as everyone was given conflicting information. It wasn’t until they threatened to send a press release exposing their inefficiencies that they got anywhere with the Education Department. But this girl is still not in school – and if she doesn’t get enrolled, her mother may go to jail.
This is Yi Liang’s letter. Can anyone help?
Azadnisa Rahman is a seven year old girl, who hopes to enter school in the coming school year. She is the child of a Indonesian cook at a South Indian restaurant who entered Malaysia on an Indonesian passport with a valid work permit, and a Bangladeshi father who has since disappeared for good. Azadnisa was born in Malaysia, and as such has a Malaysian Sijil Kelahiran (Birth Certificate). However, her birth was not registered with the Indonesian nor Bangladeshi Embassies, rendering her de facto stateless.
As such, it is difficult for her to obtain Malaysian citizenship, or Permanent Resident status. More importantly, and more pressing at this time is the fact that she has been barred from entering a Government school, due to the fact she has been registered as a foreigner, “Daftar Orang Asing”.
She currently desires to have an education, at present, she and her mother live in the restaurant itself, having nowhere else to stay. The family of my girlfriend, Keisha, have been helping her, her grandfather having aided in enrolling her in a church kindergarten.
However, she is now of school age. As such, Keisha and I tried to determine what was the procedure to get her accepted into a primary school, run by the Malaysian Ministry of Education.
The procedure was a nightmare. No department of the Education Ministry had the information we sought, nor did anyone speak English with any fluency. I personally collected at least 8 different numbers before any progress was made. The common statement was “we do not handle this”, or “you speak to so and so at this number to get this done”, only to call the number and to find out that no one was there, or worse, the person did not deal with Azadnisa’s issue, and once again, I would be given yet another department, within the Schools Division.
It was only when Keisha and I had had enough, and decided to threaten the Ministry with a press release of their inefficiency, did we get anywhere. We were redirected to Customer Services, who were about to divert me to another number yet again, actually gave a response upon hearing our threat of press exposure.
What we found out is this. Azadnisa’s situation bars her from entering a Malaysian Government School, and as such, she needs to enter a private school, keeping in mind the new government policy regarding mandatory school enrollment.
Azadnisa’s bright. She needs a future. And, at this point, she needs a sponsor. Please, help her.
If anyone can help her, please leave a comment or email Yi Liang as soon as possible.
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