Poorest children in Malaysian capital suffer from barriers to education – UNICEF report

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You wake up to the sound of traffic outside your window. Skyscrapers line the sky and the streets buzz with the morning commute. The city is awakened with the potential of the day.

But on your side of the window, the scene in front of you tells a very different story.

Skyscrapers are towering reminders of a world not yours to know, as you embark on your morning commute to see if you can afford breakfast that day at the most food stall. close.

That’s the reality for 99.7 percent of children living in low-cost housing in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, in households that hover just above the absolute poverty line, according to a Unicef ​​report published on Monday.

More than half of the children mentioned in the report have not been able to afford food in recent months, while 51% of children aged five to six do not attend kindergarten, said the deputy representative of the ‘Unicef ​​and Senior Social Policy Specialist. Dr Amjad Rabi explained during the report launch event.

Yet these vulnerable community members compete for the same scholarships as children who have nutritious meals waiting for them every night, yearning for the same grades as students who are tutored on weekends and entering the same market. of work than their classmates who have a network all done in the professional world.

But how can you expect a child who is 70 percent less likely to have a single book at home compared to a richer family to achieve their equal potential?

Dewi Seribayu, a student of mass communication and media studies, wrote in the Unicef ​​study:

“Poverty is ruthless, especially towards children. “

“Growing up and living in this kind of environment leaves deep scars and shapes them to be people with a pessimistic view of the world.”

“The poor struggle against despair, anxiety, shame and inferiority. It is undeniable that this is the result of being speechless and powerless. It gives an internalized worldview where many think they have no value and have nothing meaningful to offer. As such, children grow up without aspiration and dreams, ”she added.

Education is often seen as an important tool for social mobility. Source: Shutterstock

Twenty percent of Kuala Lumpur’s poorest children are stunted and 12 percent are malnourished, yet these underprivileged children maintain scores comparable to the national average, according to the study.

Education is often seen as a significant social mobility tool by educators because it can equip children with the skills to find meaningful employment and lift themselves out of poverty.

But it’s not always that simple, according to Dr Muhammad Abdul Khalid, Principal Investigator for the study and Chief Economist for DM Analytics.

Muhammad, who was also speaking at the launch, said using education as a tool for social mobility can put unprecedented pressure on disadvantaged students to excel.

Instead, he said, governments should create policies that propel rather than punish the poor, such as universal family allowances, increased information on nutrition, maternity leave, taxation of unhealthy foods, and safe social spaces that children can visit during the day and the night.

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