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A report from the United Nations has noted Malaysia’s failure to keep up with other countries in regard to schooling for children of migrants and asylum-seekers.

The report by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, says children of Filipino and Indonesian migrant workers in Sabah state in Borneo are categorized as orang asing (foreigner) on birth certificates, which prevents them from attending public schools, Bernama reported.

Children of Rohingya refugees are also subjected to the same treatment because Myanmar failed to recognize them as citizens, which has left them effectively stateless.

Manos Antoninis, director of UNESCO’s flagship annual education report, said Malaysia has been slow to adopt standards in other countries and should follow states such as Chad and Lebanon and include children in their education system regardless of their citizenship and identification status.

Apart from acceptance issues, the report also delved into issues relating to curricula and teaching skills. Malaysian teachers who were instructed to form intercultural programmes were found to have minimal guidance from authorities.

The report said the education needs of refugee children and kids with disabilities were chronic. Teachers in Malaysia said some families with limited means keep children with disabilities out of school and just send their siblings.

It said migrants and displaced people also had rights that should be protected. They should be included in the national education system.

Currently, the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has said there are 162,430 registered refugees in Malaysia. More than half of them are Rohingya from Myanmar, accounting for 80,010 asylum seekers.

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