For Undocumented Siblings, Education is No Longer a Distant Dream
The children of single father Ram (left) are among 140 stateless students benefitting from a textbook lending programme sponsored by RYTHM.
“I need to feed my children first before I can buy them books,” says Ram (not his real name), a single father of six children.
No parent wants to be in a position to choose between feeding their child or educating them. But unfortunately, this is a predicament faced by vulnerable families like Ram’s worldwide, including in Malaysia.
Ram’s dilemma is even more difficult because his children, aged five to 15, are undocumented. They were born in Malaysia but declared stateless when their births went unregistered.
“As a single parent, I face many financial difficulties. I cannot work much because I have health and disability issues,” he related. “I collect and sell cans and metals and only make about RM50 (approximately US$12) daily.”
The labourer’s measly income barely covers the expenses for his family, much less their education. “I do not have enough money to buy books for all my children. I have only purchased four textbooks and can’t get any more for the rest.”
The family’s quandary is representative of the stories of countless other stateless families making up Malaysia’s urban poor segment.
Child advocates estimate that over 300,000 children in the country are missing out on an education because they are stateless, refugees, asylum seekers, or undocumented.
The RYTHM-DHRRA partnership includes a textbook lending library for marginalised stateless children.
Education for the Undocumented
RYTHM Foundation, the social impact initiative of the QI Group, has long partnered with like-minded organisations on moulding projects that make education the catalyst for social transformation.
Unwavering in our belief that every child must obtain equal opportunity and access to knowledge and learning, these have not excluded stateless children in Malaysia.
A front-running educational collaboration is with the non-profit Development of Human Resources for Rural Areas Malaysia (DHRRA). The NGO dedicates its services to poverty alleviation and people empowerment initiatives, including keeping undocumented children in school.
An element of the partnership includes a textbook lending library for marginalised stateless children whose families cannot afford the expensive learning materials.
Children register to receive textbooks through the RYTHM-DHRRA initiative.
Ram’s children finally have a shot at getting a proper education through the lending scheme. “I am so happy and grateful that you (RYTHM and DHRRA) came forward to help us.
“I consider myself fortunate that my children are getting assistance from this library. I promised and challenged myself to ensure that all my children get an education. I don’t want them to end up like me,” he said, teary-eyed.
The trials they face have not deterred Ram’s children from working hard to achieve their dreams. On the contrary, they pledged to study harder with the programme’s assistance.
“We do not have much, but I am happy to get the textbooks. It means a lot to my family and me,” his 15-year-old daughter said.
RYTHM’s alliance with DHRRA is part of the Foundation’s Gift of Life (GOL) initiative, which focuses on critical and urgent community and individual needs.
GOL has evolved to support marginalised individuals, groups, and communities in urban and rural areas, which started as a personal programme by the Group’s founders.
Do you know of a cause or a community that could benefit from GOL? Are you a manager of a non-profit seeking support? We would like to hear from you. For more information, click here.