Suhakam member calls for compulsory free education

Human rights groups say a better education system is needed to prepare children for the future.

PETALING JAYA: Human rights activists are calling for a more comprehensive and holistic educational system for children in light of the upcoming announcement of next year’s Budget, while a commissioner of Suhakam says compulsory free education would help reduce child abuse and exploitation.

Bina Ramanand, lead coordinator of Malaysian Campaign for Equal Citizenship, said there is a need to focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects, calling it a way to prepare students to face the new industrial revolution and be a part of an efficient and productive future workforce to bring Malaysia to the forefront.

“With that comes the need for well-equipped science laboratories and digital teaching and learning technology,” she said.

Speaking to FMT, Bina said the school curriculum has to be more participatory and practical, where students are exposed to and taught critical skills to arrive at innovative solutions for contemporary solutions.

She also called for funds to be allocated into creating a more universal and inclusive education system, where refugees and stateless children can be educated as well.

“Providing comprehensive education to all children can reap manifold benefits for the country, where these future adults would be able to contribute to the country’s success and break the cycle of poverty.”

Noor Aziah Awal, Suhakam’s commissioner for children’s affairs encourages the idea of free and compulsory primary and secondary education for all children, saying that it can serve to reduce child marriage, child labour, and exploitation and abuse of children.

“It is the best method to reduce or prevent child exploitation. When you are educated, you are informed of what exploitation is. If you are in school, you are placed in a safe space. These can reduce the chances of being abused or exploited for child labour or more,” Aziah told FMT.

Social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi said the government should resolve issues such as children’s parents not being Malaysians – either one or both – adding that children deserve education regardless.