Everybody needs education to lead their future and it is no exemption for the refugees and their children who are in the schooling age. There are many children of the refugees who have not been able to study at any private, public school or college even though they are born in Malaysia.
Mahmoud Fayaz, a refugee from Palestine, has three daughters aged 6 , 9 and 12 who were born in Malaysia. He cannot afford to send his children to a public school due to the expensive tuition fees and difficult times throughout COVID-19 pandemic and the Movement Control Order (MCO) where most businesses are down.
According to Mahmoud, refugees in Malaysia are mostly not allowed to work or study in the public or private universities. However many Palestinian refugees work in restaurants or cook and sell food from home.
Mahmoud, who suffered severe injuries in 2014 war in Gaza, told Big Blue TV that he learnt how to cook only when he migrated to Malaysia.
He said, during the COVID-19 crisis he and his is wife together with their children bake cakes, cook food at home and deliver to houses and offices via online.
Mahmoud’s wife said, they are willing to work hard in Malaysia to feed their three children and pay over RM1200 per month for their apartment rent, but their main concern is their children are not able to go to school.
There are some private schools that take in refugees but offer only basic education and are overcrowded.
Majed Abu Arqoup has 3 daughters (Narehan, Barehan, Ilham) born in Malaysia. He said he work so hard to send them to private school.
Due to Covid pandemic and MCO he and his wife lost their jobs. As a result, he stopped all the 3 kids from going to school as he can not afford to pay their tuition fees.
” I want to go to public school and study with Malaysian students,” his daughter Narehan said, adding she wanted to be doctor in future and go back to her country one day to help people.
Majed is thankful there are many generous people and NGOs in Malaysia offering the refugees some essentials such as food and medicine during this pandemic.
“But, nobody can help us to pay a big amount of money monthly for our kids to study in private schools,” he added.
“This charitable school where I study is over-crowded, and the class rooms are without air-conditioner.
“Throughout the MCO, our situation becomes worse when we have to attend classes online from home. Sometimes I do not have enough data connection in my mobile so I cannot attend all the classes,” said
The 15 year Palestinian refugee added, Malaysia is a very nice country and I am happy to live here, but not as a refugee.
“My dream is to be a software engineer or an automotive operator but no college or school wants to accept me just because I am a refugee,” he said.
Malaysia is the home for thousands of refugees who come from many different countries that are in conflicts and war. They come to Malaysia for many reasons, Maybe because it is easy to get here or it`s a generous country, or perhaps because the official religion is Islam.
Normally refugees flee to a place where they can find peace and feel safe.
As of May 2021, there are more than 180,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia. Most of them are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Most of the refugees are from Myanmar and Palestine.
Some of them have been living here for many years and involving many generations even though Malaysian law does not recognize refugees or asylum seekers. It considers a refugee as “illegal immigrant”.
Every year the Malaysian government and some humanitarian organizations offer scholarships for Palestinian students to pursue their studies in degree, masters and PhD in many established local universities. In 2019, 12 local universities were reported to have offered scholarships worth RM11million to Palestinian students living in Malaysia.