REFUGEE EDUCATION IN ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE: THE CURRENT STATE IN MALAYSIA AND ITS WAY FORWARD

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Abstract

With Malaysia being a non-signatory country to the 1951 Refugee Convention, refugee children in the country are denied access to the national education system and could only obtain informal education through community-based learning centres, established by local refugee community or NGOs. While the current provision of education aims to help refugee children to gain basic knowledge and skills to survive in the country, they seem to live a different lifestyle in isolation and remain “invisible” to the vast majority of the Malaysian citizens. Efforts to promote integration of refugees into the society are very important as the sense of belonging is one crucial factor to help them regain dignity and hope. Thus, there is a need to look at the term “refugee education” from another perspective, which is, “education about refugees” for the Malaysian citizens. The founder of Soka University, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, mentioned in his speech at Teachers College in 1996 that one key element to global citizenship education is “the wisdom to perceive the interconnectedness of all life and living”. Therefore, global citizenship education plays a vital role in promoting harmonious co-existence among people of different ethnicities and backgrounds, and the issue of refugee education could be a stepping stone towards the introduction of global citizenship education in the country.

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