PETALING JAYA - A Rohingya refugee who couldn't fulfil his dream of attaining higher education is trying to help children from his community achieve theirs by setting up a learning centre in Seri Kembangan.
Mohd Rafique Khairul Bashar, 36, came to Malaysia two decades ago to look for work to pay for school in Yangon.
"But, I never had the chance to study," he said, adding that he set up the Knowledge Garden Learning Centre School at Taman Sri Serdang for 18 children with the assistance of the Rohingya community in 2013.
Located within the compound of a driving school, the school now serves 120 students between the ages of five and 15.
The children learn basic English, Bahasa Malaysia, Arabic, Mathematics, Science and Islamic studies from voluntary teachers.
The learning centre relies on public donations to pay its monthly rent, utilities, meals, stationery, books, a van driver and other miscellaneous expenses.
"We're really grateful to the aid we have been receiving from different groups," said Mohd Rafique, who is also the school principal and founder.
Humaniti Malaysia is among one of the aid groups that donated RM70,000 (S$22,440) from the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development for the school's refurbishment.
"It's important to put them in schools so that the children don't get involved in crime or become victims of human trafficking," said Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar, president of Humaniti Malaysia.
Syed Hamid, who is also the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Special Envoy to Myanmar, visited the centre to distribute school bags and textbooks to the children.
There are 150,669 refugees and asylum seekers registered with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Malaysia as of October last year. Of the number, 35,069 are under 18.
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