I was privileged to have represented our office, and the Philippine government in general, in the first meeting on educational cooperation between the Philippines and Malaysia. And while the bulk of the talks revolved around education exchange between the countries, our special concern was for stateless kids (because they are undocumented right from birth) in Sabah whose roots came from the Philippines, to gain access to education. Our office started to get onboard on this project in 2012, where I first joined an assessment team to look into the situation of the kids. We are happy that there are informal learning centers established by Filipino communities so that they learn basic reading, writing and arithmetic. But they still need all the help they can get. Since then, we have had several interventions to help them little by little, including soliciting funds and materials for their use, talking to other agencies for birth registrations and upgrading qualifications of teachers, and others.
We are hoping that through this dialogue that the Malaysian government will recognize their rights, and with it, the learning centers, so that they have no fear of being shut down. All they want to do is learn. We still have a long way to go.