Education for Stateless Kids
It was the first time for me to visit Malaysia for volunteering opportunity. When I was at high school, I participated several exchange programs and saw similar poor circumstanced people. Most of them are economically poor for lots of reasons. For example, they cannot get education. However, in Tawau, the situation was different. They cannot get education because they were stateless. Because they are stateless, they even cannot get basic social welfare.
I was most impressed by noticing that the stateless kids were so eager to study. Since I worked at Japanese clam school, I unintentionally compared them with Japanese same age students. While Japanese students usually sleep and do not try to open their textbook when class starts, kids there were trying to absorb everything that I gave to them. They always look at my eyes and ask questions when they need to. I rarely see those students in Japan. I wandered why stateless kids cannot go to the public school while those not well motivated Japanese kids unwillingly forced to go to public school. I was also shocked by a huge difference which just comes from difference of the birth place. I also noticed that when people won’t be satisfied when they are filled with too much good things or nothing. This is the issue Japanese students face which I noticed by looking at stateless kids.
While it is obvious that improvement of the educational circumstances surrounding stateless kids should be given the first priority, another less serious problems arises again. Given the Japanese situation, we should really consider how to improve the educational environment without wasting their innate motivation by giving them too much because it is the most powerful detonator which makes every people to learn things. （Hajime MAEMURA）
My stay in Tawau
Our stay in Tawau lasted for one week. That stay enabled me to know a lot of things. Especially, the communication with stateless people was an experience that cannot be earned in Japan. I have almost no chance to know well about stateless. This may because Japan is a country which is very strict about nationality. Stateless people are very uncommon in Japan. When I visited Grace Training Centre, at first, I did not feel they are stateless. They were much more powerful than I had expected previously. During my presentation, I was almost overwhelmed my them. It was not only because my presentation was not very good, but also because they had a great enthusiasm for learning. Visit to stateless people’s house also gave me a lot. I felt that their houses showed us how they actually live. Most of their houses were homemade, and there seemed efforts made to adopt to the land, especially in coast area. It was very good for me that I could see such well thought construction. However, it was also clear that hard and tough work is necessary to construct them. Moreover, the safety of houses is not guaranteed. It can be said that stateless people who do not have their own land and house made by manufacturer are somewhat exposed to danger. Though warm climate in Malaysia makes their live sustainable, I thought that they should be given safer life to.
What I experienced in Tawau was so precious and affective to my opinion about nationality. I found myself very dependent on my national ID. Of course, having national ID means that I am paying tax for social welfare I get. However, ID and nationality are different. Therefore, in my opinion, stateless does not necessarily mean not having ID. Like membership of organizations, there can be ID for stateless people. If identifying each stateless people and set duties and rights were possible, I believe stateless people’s live would be greatly improved. (Ryotaro MAESAKA/ Waseda University)
I think most people are not familiar with this word and even don’t know the meaning of it. Honestly, I was one of those people.
This visit to Tawau, Malaysia gave me new insight of people being stateless. I won’t say that the visit was just for studying, (I enjoyed swimming in a beautiful beach, climbing a mountain, eating nice Malaysian food, etc. as well), but I can say this for sure that I learned how nationality (or citizenship?) can change one’s life. Actually, stateless kids I met at Grace Training Center were not eligible to go to public school. I talked with two female students whose parents were originally from Indonesia. They will graduate from the center and go back to Indonesia for higher education as they don’t have official document in Malaysia, so can’t go to Malaysian school, which means they can’t continue their study in Tawau. They said that they are going to miss Tawau because they were born and raised in Tawau. I felt very sad when I heard this. Moreover, some of them are living at houses which are illegally built, and the living conditions are very bad. I thought that the government official could at least give them a right to education and residency as they themselves are not responsible for being stateless. However, at the same time, I felt that they were nothing different from those living in Japan. They learn a lot, enjoy playing. And what I was impressed with is that they welcomed us very very happily. The only thing differs from us is an official document.
I don’t think it’s not easy to find a perfect answer. As the leader of Calvary Church said that it also involves religious issues. Through this visit I thought that I wanted to continue visiting Tawau to do something for stateless kids. It’s difficult to solve the problem but I can do something at least, so I thought I didn’t want to end here. I hope stateless kids will see bright future. (Naoki Ueda/ Waseda University)