Eleven-year-old Arezul Junit gets called 'bodoh' (stupid) in school.
Sporting a Malaysian Tigers football jersey, the young lad speaks casually of the teasing he receives in a national school.
Arezul says he is made to feel like he is an outcast when he goes to a national school near Bidor.
"Some kids call me stupid (bodoh) in the school in town (pekan school/national school)."
Prying further, the little boy revealed that his indigenous roots were the source of his humiliation in school.
"Yes, they tease us".
And then there's 14-year-old Myanmarese Niang San Ching who does not realise that she is not accepted into mainstream schools. The daughter of refugee parents, Niang expresses her enthusiasm for friends she has and a shelter she lives in.
"I came to Malaysia with my parents. I think for two years now. I am happy I have friends here in this class."
Arezul and Niang are from different backgrounds, but they share a common problem. Both face some form of discrimination.
But, the children have hope. Arezul and Niang's communities have come together to provide additional and alternative education, in environments that allow them to freely express themselves and have a bit of fun while learning.
Arezul, is Semai. He is part of the larger Senoi group under the Orang Asli community. Arezul diligently goes to a community school in Kampung Chang Lama, near Bidor. This school was set up by a village network called Sinui Pai Nanuk Sengik (SPNS). SPNS, which means New Life, One Heart, is led by community leader Tijah Yok Chopil who wants to empower the Orang Asli to learn about their land rights and be aware of the rights for their children to be educated without discrimination.
Myanmarese Niang studies in English and in her own dialect at a learning centre set up by the Zomi Association of Malaysia on Jalan Maharajalela in Kuala Lumpur. The Zomi people are one of the many ethnic groups from the Chin state in Myanmar.
Yahoo! Malaysia visited both centres to learn that the students are being taught English, Mathematics and Science, as well as their respective cultural practices and languages to preserve their heritage.
Both alternative schools do not receive government funding and are supported solely by public donations and contributions from non-governmental organisations. All learning materials, books, computers, and even biscuits and tea are donated.
In Kampung Chang Lama, volunteer teacher Azizah Amin says the children learn the Semai Language, a lesson that the national schools don't offer. "We tell them stories in Semai language, get them to write stories and paint pictures, and sing songs as well, so the children don't forget their roots."
The children are also taken on jungle walks to learn about medicinal and poisonous plants, and basic hunting knowledge, so their way of life is not forgotten, added the 29-year-old Kampung Chang Lama resident.
The school provides two-hour lessons every afternoon so the children can attend them when they return from their morning sessions in national schools. "We want to give them additional classes where they can learn subjects in a fun way. They can be creative as we teach them through drawings, stories and songs," she says, adding that lessons are free of charge.
Azizah points out that while children are shy, they admit to the teachers that they prefer it in the community school because they are not subjected to ridicule.
Yahoo! Malaysia asked Azerul and his classmates if they suffer from any bullying in school, some admit that they do. Ten-year-old Julia is one of them, and was quick to say she preferred it in Kampung Chang Lama. Even Azerul piped up to say, "Yes I like it (community school) here better!"
Being left out from the larger youth community, is no different for the Zomi refugee children.
Not only they are not accepted in national schools, refugee children face problems due to lack of identification papers and risk getting arrested.
"No one wants to be a refugee, but these children's parents don't have a choice when they fled from Myanmar. Refugee students face tragedy and crisis, prosecution and therefore they need to be educated, so they can adapt better when they are resettled," explains Khampi, the co-ordinator of the Zomi Education Centre (ZEC).
Khampi, who is also the representative of ZEC's Head Teachers, share that while there are discussions between local NGOS, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Education Ministry to include refugee students in national schools, he has not seen any positive outcome yet.
There are six Zomi centres across Malaysia that teach basic subjects, while others provide computer lessons and adult English classes. To encourage refugee parents to send their children to school, a RM10 fee is charged, but even some times that is problem, admits Khampi.
"We still welcome those who can't afford the fee. Education is the future, education offers hope for these children."
Malaysians and Myanmarese make up the teachers for these centres, some are volunteers and some receive an allowance from UNHCR. The United Nations refugee agency, offers an allowance of between RM200 and RM600 for one teacher managing a class size of up to 50 people, explains Khampi.
The children from the Zomi community learn in cramped environments, with poor lighting and ventilation. Shophouses or double-storey link houses are converted into learning centres, and at times housing up to 100 students in a centre. But despite these conditions, these children are enthusiastic, energetic and eager to learn.
And as Yahoo! Malaysia is taken on a walking tour in one of Zomi education centres, Khampi's reflection of the situation aptly describes how these marginalised communities feel.
"We have to take care of our own community. We're not getting the support we need, so we might as well do something."