Embassy of Finland and Persatuan Kebajikan Pendidikan Kanak-Kanak Miskin, Lahad Datu dan Semporna, Sabah (PKPKM) signed an agreement on 17th of December 2012 to help stateless children to get better access to education. With the agreement, the number of the stateless children getting education will grow from around 150 to more than 300 pupils. The organization can also use the funding to rent new spaces and hire more teachers.
PKPKM is a organization that offers education for stateless children in Lahad Datu and Semporna areas. Districts are situated in Sabah, east of Borneo Island.
“In Malaysia there should be one teacher for every 40 pupils. But as none of the governments give us any support to educate stateless children – one teacher has two shifts per day and teaches 200 children in one day,” PKPKM advisor Rosalyn Venning said.
With the funding many stateless nomadic families on small islands can now send their children to school, so they can learn to read, write, Mathematics and to speak Bahasa Malaysia.
The mobile teaching unit is among the agendas of the agreement – three teachers will tour around islands and teach children in beginning at temporary shelters.
“School will be held in a tent or at village chief’s place. Alternative temporary school can be held under any shade. The next plan is to build a school on the water at top of pontoon. Land is too expensive for us to buy or rent. But I will push them [the government] to give me an island! I am very tough,” said Venning.
Stateless Children without Rights
Between the sea borders of Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, there are hundreds of nomadic families without permanent homes. In earlier years, the main way of living for the nomads was fishing. Now, it has changed slowly to farming of seaweed.
None of the governments recognize the nomads as their citizen because their nomad way of life and because the children are not registered in any country. These are reasons why nomad children today do not have rights for instance education.