Having to flee their homeland amidst war and face discrimination, refugee youths are in a constant battle to live their life in a country they wish to call home. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Malaysia has a total of 150,379 people of concern (PoCs) with 25,499 under the age of 18.

Coming to a new country to free themselves from instability is hard enough, but being denied formal education makes it harder, and this is the reality refugee youths have to face. Despite the increasing number of refugees coming to Malaysia, the law prohibits refugee youths from attending Malaysian public schools. Being denied education at primary and secondary levels will impose more obstacles and prevent them from furthering their education and obtaining qualifications. As a result, most refugees are unable to secure a proper or decent-paying job and continue to live in poverty with no hope of changing their lives around.

Being denied access to public education in Malaysia, refugee youths rely solely on the support from UNHCR, NGO learning centres and community-based organisations for quality education. At the time of writing, there are 133 registered learning centres in Malaysia that help provide education for refugees. However, these centres also face problems such as high teacher turnover rates due to low pay and lack of funding. The current Covid-19 outbreak has also imposed more barriers as classes are now conducted online. With insufficient facilities and financial resources, refugee youths are falling behind in learning. 

In line with our core value of community empowerment via education, Small Changes MY created Aspire to Inspire (ATI), a project that targets specific demographics and empowers them through education. This year’s ATI aims to reach out to refugee youths with lessons on emotional intelligence (EQ). We have modules curated and tailored to their needs that underline the need for emotional stability for refugee youths. Other important topics that will be taught include understanding Malaysian culture, dealing with cyberbullying and online scams, managing finances, and exploring ways to generate sources of income through business. We believe that education plays a vital role for refugee youths, not only to be literate but to break the cycle of generational poverty.

How can I help?

“Sikit-sikit, lama-lama jadi bukit” (Translation: Bit by bit, over time, it will accumulate into a mountain) is something we have heard of time after time, especially when it comes to saving money! Well, what if I told you that saving RM1 a day can change a refugee youth’s life? 

Save RM1 a day for 1, 3 or 6 months and donate it to our ongoing fundraiser, #SeringgitSehari. Donations collected through this campaign will be used to empower refugee youths through Project Aspire to Inspire. This includes funding new stationeries, workbooks, module materials, food during the activities and more. 

Register to be a #SeringgitSehari Soldier here