An education in refugee schooling

Words and photos: Kate Mayberry

There are more than 150,000 people registered as refugees in Malaysia. Some have fled conflict. Others persecution. All have escaped frightening situations in the hope of finding safety and security.

About 33,000 of the refugees are children under the age of 18; a third of those at the age where they should be going to school.

But Malaysia doesn’t allow refugee children to attend government schools — much as it doesn’t allow their parents to work (legally). Instead, the UNHCR and NGOs have together created a parallel system of “learning centres,” funded by private donations and charitable groups.

There are now 125 learning centres across Malaysia, providing not only an education, but also a semblance of security in an often precarious existence.

To find out more about the lives of refugee children in Malaysia, please see:

Children recite verses from the Quran at a Rohingya refugee school in Klang, Malaysia
A teacher helps one of his Rohingya students with his homework. A this school, children follow the Malaysian curriculum.
Children wait for the bus to take them home after school
An “Express English” class at another refugee school in Klang, Malaysia. English is one of the most popular subjects. Students say learning English will help them to improve their lives, especially if they are resettled to the United States. This school follows the Singapore curriculum and teaches in English.
The library at a refugee school in Klang, Malaysia
Volunteers serve lunch to the children. Many schools provide their pupils with breakfast and lunch.
School shoes outside the classroom. Uniforms are usually donated.
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