‘Many underprivileged children do not attend school’

National 2 minutes, 10 seconds


THE Brunei Council on Social Welfare (MKM) said many underprivileged do not go to school because their parents neglected them.

Head of MKM’s Children Committee Zubaidah Dato Hj Abu Zar said the council discovered that some underprivileged children had parents who were put in prison or were undergoing drug rehabilitation.

“I found out that these kids are left alone by their families – they don’t have anyone to support them. I thought that government agencies would be helping them all this while, but no one is helping them.

“They don’t go to school because they don’t have transport, they don’t have money to buy school things they need,” she continued.

Zubaidah was speaking on the sidelines of the Borneo Insider's Guide (BiG)'s 10th Anniversary Picnic Festival last Sunday at the Jerudong Park Colonnade, which helped raise funds for MKM.

Zubaidah urged more government agencies to work with MKM by providing the lists of people who require financial help.

“We don’t really mind as that’s what we’re here for, to help the needy. I particularly place emphasis on the kids, because if the children don’t have enough education, the cycle will go back to square one,” she said.

“These (children) are the leaders of the future - these will be the people we will depend on for our children’s futures, for our grandchildren’s futures.

“So if these kids are not being looked after or being well taken care of, I don’t think we’re going to get anything from them,” Zubaidah added.

She said the council works with departments at the Ministry of Education in alleviating the problem.

It was recently reported that as many as 3,913 students missed at least three weeks of school last year. Minister of Education Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman had said 16.2 per cent of primary school pupils were absent for more than 20 days in 2015, while some were away from school for 140 days.

According to the Compulsory Education Act of 2007, Bruneian citizens or residents aged from six to 15 must attend school if they were born on or after January 1, 2002.

Zubaidah said MKM is currently providing financial assistance to over 100 underprivileged children.

Underprivileged children were often identified through MKM’s legal advice and advisory clinic, or through word-of-mouth referrals, she said.

She added that these children often came from families with a monthly income of below $450.

Zubaidah urged members of the public to support charity events organised by MKM, as a way to aid the underprivileged.

The Brunei Times