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Celebrating children’s rights

ALTHOUGH Malaysia’s education indicators such as literacy rates and school enrolment ratios are comparable to industrialised countries, there are still pockets of children who do not have proper access to education.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) says the children at greatest risk in Malaysia are non-Malaysian children born in Malaysia. These include refugee children and children of undocumented migrant workers; children of single mothers and children born in remote areas of the country.

“Budak yang tidak sekolah rasa sedih kerana diri dia tak pandai. Dia tak boleh mengeja dan membaca…” said 14-year-old Nickwan, in a voice-over played at the Education for Every Child forum today on 20 Nov 2009 in Kuala Lumpur.

“Without education, the Orang Asli will stay poor and continue to lack education for generations to come,” said Faezlan Angah, a 13-year-old Semai boy.

The forum was jointly organised by Unicef and the Malaysian Bar Council in conjunction with Universal Children’s Day which falls on 20 Nov, and marks the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Malaysia ratified the CRC in 1995.

“If there is even one child left behind, it is one child too many,” said Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali who gave the keynote address at the forum. “For every child we leave behind, we leave generations more vulnerable to poverty, exploitation and lost opportunities.”

Dr Siti Hasmah and her daughter, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, also launched a special edition of Unicef‘s State of the World’s Children report. The report charts the progress on child’s rights as articulated in the CRC.

At the forum, children’s voices were given prominence through their drawings and stories. The children’s drawings and their captions were provided through Unicef.

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