KUCHING: Children without proper documentations in the state will soon be receiving assistance from the state National Registration Department (JPN) and the state Education Department under a new strategic cooperation this year.
The formation of the strategic cooperation, according to Minister of Welfare, Women and Community Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, will assist primary and secondary schoolchildren obtain their birth certificates and identification card.
She said a meeting between both departments was held on Aug 17, which saw a total of 1,297 names being tabulated from schools across the state.
“This is a major milestone for Sarawak as it will enable those who were previously undocumented to complete their formal education (Primary 1 to Form 5),” said Fatimah during a dinner hosted by state JPN for its staff here on Saturday.
The strategic cooperation, she further said, would be a great service to Sarawak children as school headmasters would normally still allow children without proper documentations to pursue their education in Primary 1 up to Primary 6.
The problem, she added, would arise when the child was about halfway through secondary school.
“This will cause the child to drop out of school. What can a person do if they stop studying after Primary 6, or dropping out of school when they are in Form 1 or Form 2?” she questioned.
Checks by state JPN on the 1,297 students, she added, revealed that 637 of them were indeed Malaysian citizens; 79 were non-citizens, 81 with undetermined status and 500 did not have complete background information.
“I sincerely hope that more of such strategic cooperation would be formed as a good start to 2017; not as a one-off effort, but a continuous initiative,” said Fatimah, who is also Dalat assemblywoman.
On another note, she said state JPN received 20 to 50 cases regarding nationality issues under Section 15 (A) each
The minister said to find ways to deal with the mounting cases, her ministry together with state JPN met Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also the Home Minister, on Aug 16, 2015.
“We met him (Ahmad Zahid) as this issue needed to be solved together (at federal and state level),” said Fatimah, adding that among the calls to be given focus by the Home Ministry would be on the issue of undocumented children in Sarawak.
After the meeting, she said Zahid agreed for the state JPN to form a special taskforce to screen the names of children who submitted their nationality forms before sending them over to Putrajaya for approval.
Meanwhile, state JPN director Jasni Jubli said that the dinner was for all staff members to get to know one another better outside the confines of their office.
Later, Fatimah handed a Minor Rural Project (MRP) grant totalling RM3,000 to the state JPN for the department to conduct recreational events.
State JPN deputy director Emily Lee was also present at the event.