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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27, 2016:

Representatives from the Orang Asli community in Kelantan today delivered a memorandum to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) demanding that the government initiate reforms for Orang Asli children in the educational system. The demands were made as the community felt that no action had been taken by the government following the recent tragedy where seven Orang Asli children from Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Pos Tohoi, Gua Musang went missing. Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Kelantan (JKOAK) deputy chairman Nasir Dollah said the government must take into account the proper nurturing as well as the wellbeing of Orang Asli children. He said the Orang Asli community, like any other community in Malaysia, valued the significance of knowledge and learning and were willing to go to great lengths to ensure that their children received proper education. “Some schools are located nearly 30 to 40km from students’ villages and homes, forcing parents to send their children to live in boarding schools. “These children are being sent away by their parents in order for them to be educated. They only get to see their parents three maybe four times a year during school holidays,” he said during a Press conference at the Suhakam office, earlier today. This was partly the reason, he said, why one of the demands enshrined within the memorandum was for the government to build schools in each respective Pos or district which would cater to its surrounding villages and community. Another pressing issue contained in the memorandum was for teachers and staff who are placed at the school to be adapted and respectful to the culture of the Orang Asli people, he said. “We want teachers who want to teach and who are willing to teach these children. This means they are not there only to receive government mandated allowances for working in rural areas. “Teachers who are able to understand, accept and adapt to the children, only then can the process of education and learning be carried out effectively.” One of the demands was for a guardian to be placed in each school, whose main duty was to care for the welfare of Orang Asli children, he said. Nasir added since the tragedy which befell the community last year, parents were reluctant to send their children to schools fearing for their wellbeing. A total of 17 representatives from the Kelantan Orang Asli community were present today including the parents of the children who were involved in the SK Pos Tohoi incident. The memorandum was delivered to Datuk Dr Mahmood Zuhdi A. Majid, who represented Suhakam.    

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