The refugee children who have access to education in Malaysia attend either education projects run by UNHCR in partnership with Non-Governmental Organisations, or community-based education classes that are organised by the refugee communities themselves with the support of non-refugee groups such as faith-based groups.
UNHCR partners with Non-Governmental Organisations to run education projects for refugee children. Eight such projects exist, located in Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Selangor, and Penang. Students attending these education projects are typically between 5 to 16 years of age. Teachers utilise Malaysian school textbooks to teach four main subjects which are English, Math, Science and Bahasa Melayu.
However, only some 1,000 or approximately 20% of refugee children who are in school benefit from these projects. The majority of refugee children of school-going age attend classes in community-based schools.
Community-based schools are education classes that are run by the refugee communities themselves with the support of non-refugee groups such as faith-based groups. These community-based schools are located close to the refugee population, wherever there are refugee communities with a large number of children of school-going age.
According to information gathered from the refugee communities, at least 70 such schools are located in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. More than 5,000 refugee children attend such schools.
The scope and reach of these classes are largely restricted by a lack of resources, including qualified teachers. Classes are usually held in rented flats or shop houses, where rooms are converted into classrooms, and are largely overcrowded and lacking in basic teaching facilities.
Each individual school has a varying level of need for assistance, but in general, the needs of these schools include:
- Funding for:
- refugee teachers' compensation
- transportation for children
- payment of utilities and rental of school premises
- a meal for the children in school
- Stationery and teaching-related equipment
- Skills-building for teachers
- Volunteers to help with teaching and administration