Where Are They?
Where Are They?
Keep Children In School
Moving forward for every child, education
At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 1.6 billion of the world’s schoolchildren were out of school, leaving education systems, parents, teachers, and children themselves grappling with the new realities of remote learning. In Malaysia, school closures disrupted learning for 5 million children.
Yet, before the pandemic, there were about 100,000 children in Malaysia not in primary schools for various reasons. Who are these children and where are they from?
For me, this year has taught me that every problem brings an opportunity to make things better.
On a recent trip to Sabah, I visited a secondary school and met children whose lives have been affected by the unprecedented scale of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of playing sports and going out with friends, they had to stay indoors and wonder about an uncertain future.
School closures have disrupted learning, and children without digital access will be left behind. Their mental health and psychosocial wellbeing have also been significantly compromised.
Kim Hyung Joon, UNICEF Malaysia
Communication for Development Specialist
Our Education Specialist
Our Education Specialist
Azlina works closely with the Ministry of Education (MoE) and other stakeholders to ensure ALL children have access to quality, equity and inclusion in education. This includes both the mainstream and marginalised groups of invisible and out-of-school children in Malaysia.
She paid a visit to a Community Learning Centre (CLC) in Kinarut, Sabah which provides educational opportunities for invisible children as they are currently unable to enroll in mainstream schools. However, their schooling here is only up to the first 6 years. Without much prospect to continue with their education, their future is uncertain and compromised.
Speaking to the children, Azlina felt their love of learning is palpable. But the lack of documentation and the limited schooling opportunities made worse by an unprecedented pandemic could potentially jeopardise these children’s future plans.
Do watch the video to learn more about invisible children in Sabah and their education needs.
Will you help invisible children go to school?
Education is a basic right for every child at UNICEF, we are making progress in ensuring the rights to education for children in Malaysia, especially those who are the most marginalised, disadvantaged and excluded in society.
Discover the unheard and unseen
Most of the invisible children are born in Malaysia, yet they are undocumented or invisible because they do not have birth certificates or other legal identity documents.
This may be due to a host of reasons such as mixed marriages (between citizens and non-citizens), traditional or customary marriages which are not registered, children born out of wedlock or born to single mothers, children from rural indigenous communities, children born to undocumented foreign parents, and so forth.
At the Centre, children are taught reading, writing, arithmetic and are exposed to skillsets that may benefit them in the future.
Meet Nur Aina | Age 12
“I love going to school because I get to see and talk to my friends.[show_more more=”Read more” less=””]My favourite subjects include Bahasa Melayu, Mathematics, Science, Moral Studies, History and English. I want to be a Teacher and teach other students because I believe education is important.”[/show_more]
Meet Irwan | Age 11
“I enjoy learning, meeting my teacher and my friends when I am at school.
[show_more more=”Read more” less=””]Science, English, Mathematics and Bahasa Melayu are among my preferred subjects. My ambition is to be a professional gamer so that I can win trophies and help support my parents and friends. During COVID-19, I studied from home, practising my English, Mathematics and Art.”[/show_more]
Help children like Nur Aina and Irwan stay in school today.
TWO KEY INITIATIVES TO ACHIEVE EDUCATION FOR ALL
Future Skills For All
A two–year digital skills and computational thinking learning programme for all school children in Malaysia. It is aimed at strengthening provision and reducing inequalities in digital and skills development and it has ensured continuous learning for tens of thousands of children.
Komuniti Guru Digital Learning
UNICEF partnered with MoE to support teachers in schools and Community Learning Centres (CLCs) as well as parents to be more effective remote online educators. This was noted as one of the promising practices in a publication on “Promising Practices for Equitable Remote Learning – Emerging lessons from COVID-19 education responses in 127 countries”.
Joon teaching school children in Sabah proper handwashing steps
- Future Skills For All – a two-year digital skills and computational thinking learning programme for all schoolchildren in Malaysia. It is aimed at strengthening provision and reducinginequalities in digital and skills development and it has ensured continuous learning for tens of thousands of children.
- Komuniti Guru Digital Learning – UNICEF partnered with MoE to support teachers in schools and CLCs (and parents) to be more effective remote online educators. This was noted as one of the promising practices in a publication on “Promising Practices for Equitable Remote Learning – Emerging lessons from COVID-19 education responses in 127 countries”.
UNICEF is leading the charge to Respond, Recover and Reimagine a world fit for every child. Together, we can prevent COVID-19 from being a lasting crisis for children.
With your generous contribution, we work for children, we work with children, and we will never give up.
– Joon Kim
Together, we can continue to provide inclusive and quality education for children- the most marginalised, disadvantaged and the excluded in the society. We can help make their dreams of a better future come true.