RYTHM Foundation helps Malaysian children stay in school
For the past one year, siblings Aravind, 12, Yuktisha, 10, Tashaliny, 8 and Hashiny, 5, could only watch with envy as their eldest siblings Vaishnavi,15, and Danush Paramin, 13, put on their school uniforms and went out to school.
The four children, who have been classified as stateless as they do not have birth certificates, were forced to stop schooling beginning this year when they moved from Seremban, Negeri Sembilan to Tanjung Malim, Perak.
For years, a sympathetic Tamil school headmaster had allowed the children to enroll in his school while they were in Seremban but when the family moved to the new place, they were told to come with their birth certificates to enroll in the new school.
Feeling sorry for the family, a teacher in the school had referred them to DHRRA Malaysia, a non-governmental organisation that helps people who have trouble obtaining birth certificates and identity cards.
“The previous school headmaster had used the father and mother’s identity cards and registered the children for school but the new school was not willing to do anything outside the official process, so they referred the family to us,” DHRRA field officer K. Manivanan said.
He said the problem was caused by the father’s failure to register the births of the younger children.
“He registered the older children’s births but neglected to do so for the younger ones. As they grew older, it became a problem,” he said.
“We took the family to the Seremban government school for proof of birth and submitted the applications for birth certificates to the National Registration Department. We have also written to the Education Department to allow the children to continue schooling while their documents were being processed,” he said.
The eldest in the family, Vaishnavi meanwhile, expressed her wish to see her siblings to have ordinary school life experiences.
“But it can only happen if they receive their birth certificates which I hope the authorities will grant. My siblings are not at fault for the situation that they are in today,” she said.
RYTHM Foundation collaborates with DHRRA to enroll stateless and undocumented children in schools. These students also receive financial aid to facilitate their schooling process.