PETALING JAYA: A lawyers rights group has urged the government to allow stateless children to take public examinations they previously missed due to a lack of documents.
Lawyers for Liberty’s (LFL) executive director Latheefa Koya said they should be given another chance to sit their UPSR and SPM exams.
“I believe the ministry has shown commitment by saying that not only can such children go to school but also sit for these important exams,” she said in response to Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching’s statement on Friday.
Latheefa said it was never too late to correct the wrongs that had been done to such children.
Teo was reported as saying that the government wanted to provide formal education to all children and those who did not possess proper documents would be allowed to sit for UPSR, SPM and also STPM.
She also said the stateless children’s registration would be simplified if they could provide documents like birth certificates, adoption papers, court orders or verification from community leaders.
The previous government had issued a circular, dated March 11, 2009, stating that children born to a Malaysian parent, but without proper documentation, can be enrolled in government schools but was silent on whether they could take public exams.
These children will need a verification letter from the village headman that they are children of Malaysian citizens.
However, some parent groups previously claimed they were not aware of such an order.
Klang MP Charles Santiago welcomed the move to fully implement the “old” policy of allowing the stateless children to enrol in government schools.
“Those who could not sit for these important exams should be allowed to do so,” he said.
Santiago said he recently handled the case of a stateless boy in Klang and was shocked when the boy’s free books were withdrawn after the government came to know about his stateless status.
“The right to get free textbooks should be accorded to all school children, regardless of their status,” he said, adding that education is a basic right for children.