The Education Minister had earlier in Parliament confirmed that the “zero rejection policy” would not be applied to applications from stateless children. Such an answer is highly disappointing.
During Pakatan Harapan’s term, the “zero rejection policy” was a policy strategy that officials at all levels from the Ministry of Education, State education departments to the District education offices were told to implement seriously. Under this strategy, officials at all levels have been ordered to simplify the admissions process for stateless children and children with special needs, to ensure that school-aged children are not left out of school. Our goal: That no one is left behind in education.
It is very disappointing that the Ministry of Education after the Sheraton coup did not regard schooling as a basic human right for all children, and could not maintain the policy to simplify the procedures for the admission of stateless children.
Apart from streamlining the admission procedures, the Ministry of Education should also review the policy of barring stateless children from loaning textbooks and getting free breakfasts, especially children whose parents are Malaysian citizens.
I specifically raised this issue in parliament at the last sitting, but the Ministry of Education’s response on March 21 made it clear that he has no intention of changing the current policies.
Schools should be places where we educate our children against discrimination. Furthermore, many stateless children come from low-income families, discriminatory treatment will adversely affect a child’s self-esteem and growth. Don’t punish innocent children because of their parents’ mistakes or carelessness. Schools should not grow into hotbeds for discriminatory attitudes to breed, and it is the duty of the Ministry of Education to create an equitable and non-discriminatory schooling environment.
Teo Nie Ching
Member of Parliament for Kulai
DAP National Publicity Secretary