Malaysia opens schools for migrant workers’ kids

But Tamil schools ignored

(The Jakarta Post) – Malaysia has agreed to open 22 schools for the children of Indonesian migrant workers in Sabah, according to a senior Indonesian official.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Tuesday that the agreement was announced by his Malaysian counterpart, Anifah Aman, during the 12th meeting of the joint commission for bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and Malaysia in Yogyakarta.

“This is the agenda we have been pushing to get approved. It has just now been announced that [Malaysia] has approved the establishment of 22 schools,” Marty told reporters after the meeting.

Although the Foreign Ministry had no information on the number of children of Indonesian migrant workers in Sabah, many are said to lack access to school for a variety of reasons.

Marty said that the schools, which would be set up as community learning centers, would allow the children to get an education. “Some of the schools are even already operating,” the foreign minister said.

Separately, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Michael Tene said that the new learning centers would be operated as an extension of the Indonesian schools currently run by Indonesian officials in Malaysia.

“They [the schools] will be affiliated with Indonesian schools in Malaysia and the teachers will also be from Indonesian schools,” Michael said.

Also discussed during the meeting were efforts to address the South China Sea dispute between China and ASEAN member nations Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, according to Marty.

Beijing claims almost the entire sea, which is said to hold rich reserves of oil and gas.

Indonesia has prepared and circulated a draft of code of conduct (CoC) for the South China Sea to ASEAN foreign ministers and to China that includes stipulations for conflict prevention and management in the area.

Marty said that the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, discussed the initial draft of the code of conduct.

“Hopefully, ASEAN nations and China will end the dispute through diplomatic settlements,” the foreign minister said.

Marty said that he hoped the ASEAN Summit to be held next month in Cambodia would provide solutions to the dispute, thus avoiding the failure that occurred during the association’s last summit in July.

Delegates at the meeting on Tuesday ratified opportunities for possible cooperation in various fields and discussed holding a head-of-government meeting between President Susilo Bambang Yudho-yono and Malaysian Prime Minister Abdul Razak in Kuala Lumpur in December, according to Marty.

The foreign minister said that Indonesia and Malaysia had also agreed to use the legal process to resolve incidents involving their citizens who run foul of the law in the neighboring country, such as in drug trafficking or fishing disputes.

“Hopefully everything will be managed better in the future,” Marty said.