SIBU: Many deserving students in Kanowit district are unable to receive assistance under the Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pelajar Miskin (KWAPM) or Poor Students Trust Fund because they do not have birth certificates.
Kanowit District Education Officer Augustine Jayan Jelani stated this yesterday.
He was presenting a briefing on the types of educational assistances available to students in Kanowit district, given through the Education Department, during the Presentation of Educational Assistances from the Education Ministry for Kanowit District this year at Kanowit Education Office, about 75 km from here.
Kanowit Member of Parliament Aaron Ago Dagang was the guest-of-honour. Also present were Assistant District Education Officer Tinggom Insol, Council of Headmasters, Kanowit branch chairman Andrew Mail Sanggung, SMK Kanowit principal Sali Sumoh and senior assistant of SMK Sedaya, Kanowit Clarence Suai Kirak, who represented principal William Baja were among those present.
The problem of stateless school children (native students who do not have birth certificates) in Kanowit is quite serious.
Without any birth certificate, they are not entitled to any assistance from KWAPM, thus losing out. We hope the relevant authorities can help us to tackle this problem here as soon as possible, Jayan said.
In his speech, Aaron urged the teachers of those students who did not have birth certificates to put some extra efforts in helping the said students, together with their parents, to apply for the document from the National Registration Department (NRD).
To me, teachers are the nearest government officers to the longhouse dwellers in the rural and remote areas.
Therefore, you (teachers) are in a better position to help the students who are without birth certificates, by working together with their parents who are most likely to be stateless themselves and the local community leaders, he said.
The MP said teachers should take into consideration the generosity of the government which had allocated a substantial sum of money under the special rural allowance to them recently.
Teachers must be prepared to go the extra mile when serving in the rural areas, Aaron said, adding that teachers were the best agents of change in the rural areas.
He said teachers should be proud of what they were doing.
The MP said the problem of people having no birth certificate or MyKad in the rural areas or longhouses should be viewed seriously and with a sense of urgency.
He said they should be a concerted effort from all quarters, including the leaders, parents, children, teachers and the relevant government departments and officers.
Students from a total of 34 primary schools in Kanowit district - 24 SK and 10 SJK© - benefit from a total of RM597,500 from the KWAPM money.
The cheque for the money, which will be disbursed to the schools, was presented by Aaron to Jayan at the function.