STATELESS children adopted by Malaysians have been allegedly prevented from being enrolled in schools following a policy change that requires the children to produce passports to enrol in government schools.
Parent M. V. Krishnan, 64, said his 13-year-old adopted daughter was supposed to go to Form One this year but could not because of the new policy.
“The education department told us that we must furnish her passport to enrol her in a government school because she is not a Malaysian citizen.
“I adopted her when she was an infant and I will not be able to locate her birth parents, ” he said.
Krishnan was one of 19 parents in Penang facing similar issues with their adopted children, aged between seven and 14.
Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy said the children were stateless as their biological mothers, who are foreigners, were no longer in Malaysia and the children’s birth certificates listed them as non-Malaysians.
“Prior to this, stateless children adopted by Malaysian parents were able to attend government schools as long as the parents produce a court order of the official adoption and documentation from the welfare department on the adoption.
“The child’s citizenship in their birth certificate will be listed according to their biological mother’s citizenship.
“These stateless children were born in Malaysia to foreign mothers and their birth mothers have since disappeared, probably having returned to their country of origin.
“Different countries have different requirements in order to issue passports for children born overseas.
“Most biological parents or legal guardians of stateless children are unaware of the complex procedures in amending the birth certificates or other means of obtaining passports for the children, ” he told reporters at Komtar.
Ramasamy said the Education Ministry should drop the requirement right away and allow the stateless children to receive education as it was their fundamental right.
“Without government schools, these stateless children could only turn to private or international schools which are out of their reach.
“We should allow these children to be enrolled on compassionate grounds.
“The Federal Government must make an immediate order to rescind the passport requirement and make it easier for children to receive an education, ” he said.
Ramasamy said he had written to the state Education Department on Nov 13 last year on this matter but has yet to receive any reply.
A representative for the state education department said the policy under the state education act was reintroduced around the last quarter of 2020.
“There are means to send the children to school as there is permission to send them for two years while the rules and regulations are being sorted out.
“They just need to visit the state education department, ” said the representative.