Did you know there are about 50,000 refugee children in Malaysia below the age of 18? In Malaysia, refugees have no legal status, and their children have no access to the national education system.
There are some 150 community learning centres for refugees throughout Malaysia though, which are recognised by UNHCR. However, recognition does not mean they are receiving any financial support from UNHCR.
Thanks to these schools, refugee youths have a real shot at breaking the cycle of displacement and poverty. What these refugee children call ‘school’ is actually not much more than a room above a shop. Books, pens, and paper are sparse. Mostly, there are no playgrounds and no place to run around. But to these children, this is the place where dreams are made.
We have listed a few of these learning centres below. They are all in dire need of funding and volunteers to help out with teaching. Please do reach out to them and change the future of refugee kids.
Zo Learning Centre, Kepong
A centre for Myanmar refugees, ZoLC was established in 2010, and covers six age groups from Nursery to grade 4. The centre is supporting children from 4-17 years old, with six teachers and one volunteer coordinator. Have a look here at an article from our EcoMama, who volunteered as a teacher at ZoLC!
ZoLC is regularly looking for new volunteers to join the teaching team. Teachers are asked to commit to a minimum of one hour of class time, as well as 1-2 hours of associated preparation and follow up per week.
14-1 Jalan Wangsa 2/5, Taman Wangsa Permai, Kepong
The Hriphi Primary Learning Centre, Sentul
Hriphi (pronounced as ‘shri-pee’) is the name of a northern region of Myanmar, located in the Chin State. All children attending the Hriphi Learning Centre are from this region. The Centre was established more than 15 years ago in KL. Refugee families from Myanmar within the Chin state, gathered in the area of Sentul, and decided that they needed a community hall, a church and a school for their people. Together they rented the building on Jalan Kolam Air 2 from an elderly local Chinese uncle.
The teachers predominantly teach basic English and Maths to the approximately 30 students attending the centre; however, there are also Bible studies, Drama, Science, sport and rugby sessions.
The centre is always in need of volunteers to teach either English or Maths. No teaching experience is necessary and generally lesson plans are provided, so class preparation for volunteers is minimal. Commitment is a 2hr session each week. Class sizes are small, max 7 students. To get involved, please contact the centre via their FB page here or email them here.
Jalan Kolam Air 2, Kuala Lumpur
IDEAS Academy – Education for All
The Academy provides secondary education to refugees, stateless and undocumented children in their learning centre in Pudu. Most of these children do not have documents, and therefore cannot go to regular schools. Started in September 2014 with the first class of 24 students, the school now has over 200 students and a growing waiting list. If you want to know how to support IDEAS Academy, have a look here. You can also email them here.
No 72A Floors 2-5, Jalan Metro Pudu, Fraser Business Park, Off Jalan Yew, Kuala Lumpur
Al-Ikhlas Hope Society
This project started out in early 2018, to support the running of Al-Ikhlas School, a refugee learning centre in Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, which was then struggling to sustain itself. Five years on, AHS is still continuing to fund and oversee the management of the school. Lessons are attended by more then 150 children from the Rohingya and Myanmar refugee community living in Taman Sri Murni, Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur.
AHS welcomes volunteers to teach at Al-Ikhlas School (for a short or long-term period of time), help out in running programmes and also to help in the operations at the centre and society. You can email them here for more information, or have a look at their website here.
16, Jln 1/2d, Taman Wilayah Selayang, Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur
Siamsin Learning Centre – Empowering Refugee Children through Education
Based in Taman Sri Kuching (close to Sentul), Siamsin Learning Centre is dedicated to providing quality education to Myanmar Zomi refugee children in Kuala Lumpur.
Siamsin Learning Centre caters to approximately 65 children ranging in age from 3 to 14 years. Together with school leaders James and Elizabeth, a community of 25 volunteers teach a variety of subjects in English to these Zomi Community refugee children. Subjects taught include English, Maths, Science, Geography, History, Social Sciences, and Art. Zomi-Burmese is also taught. Educational/ recreational trips complement the classes. For further information please WhatsApp Sacha on 017 344 2755 or email the centre here.
Block O, 11-2 Jalan Selingsin 3, Taman Sri Kuching, Kuala Lumpur
Greater Action Academy
Greater Action is a non-profit social organisation and is 100% volunteer-driven, with a main focus on empowering Afghan refugee women with life and vocational skills to thrive and become self-sufficient.
The GA Academy offers a four-tier conversational English course specifically designed for the community’s needs and tailored to be delivered online. If you have 40 minutes to spare twice a week and if you are a native English and/or Malay speaker, the GAA would love to hear from you. All sessions are online via Zoom with content provided.
No. 1 B, Floor 1, Jalan Wawasan 2/8, Bandar Baru, Ampang, Selangor
A project of Tenaganita, a local non-governmental organisation based in Petaling Jaya to protect and promote the rights of women, migrants and refugees. Tanma was established in September 2010 by three refugee women groups. The school is meant for nursery and primary school kids. Currently, more than 100 kids are learning English, Math, Art, Science and Computer Science. More info about the needs of the school here. You can call them on 016 3737 390 or email them here.
20B Jalan Landak Off Jalan Pasar, Pudu Ulu