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More Orang Asli Now Appreciate Education

Last update: 08/03/2010
By Mohd Razman Abdullah

GUA MUSANG, (Bernama) -- The Orang Asli from the Temiar sub-ethnic group in Pos Balar, Kuala Betis near here are emphasising education for their younger generation to ensure the survival of their community.

Education is now seen as a route to preserve the community's identity amidst the modernisation the country is undergoing and at the same time to make sure the younger generation is knowledgeable as well.

An Orang Asli dweller in Pos Balar, Abdullah Seman, 56, noted that education would enable their children to lead a more meaningful life and earn better.

"Previously not many gave priority to education. Education did not matter much to us because we could live through the traditional way.

"However subsistence living would no longer suffice for the newer generation. In time to come resources to live will vanish along with our identity. Therefore education is the best way for the younger generation to seek the means to survive," he told Bernama.

SECONDARY EDUCATION STILL FAR FROM REACH

Nevertheless, the hurdles that his child has to surmount in continuing studies at the secondary school puts to test Abdullah's hopes to see a better future for the children of his community.

He said his child has to put up in a residential school in Gua Musang located about 50 kilometers from the village.

"The primary school is already available here but the secondary schools is situated far. We don't have sufficient means to go there often to meet our child. But for the sake of their future what else are we to do," he said.

Another Orang Asli Osman Abas, 43, noted that the demand for places in school, including secondary school, in the Orang Asli settlement is increasing.

"We too want to see our children come up. The government has helped us by providing us a settlement here. They have also opened a school here. But now we need a secondary school nearby like in Kuala Betis town," he said.

THE PLIGHT HIGHLIGHTED

Kuala Betis is the biggest and the well-known Orang Asli settlement for the Temiar group in Kelantan.

It is located about 30 kilometers from Gua Musang town that is known for tourism activities with the Gua Cha, earliest human settlement pre-dating to the Mesolithic era, alluring visitors.

Kuala Betis is now enjoying the modernisation wave and the Orang Asli are no longer left out as they are provided with housing facilities, schools, community halls and others.

Abdullah and Osman's hope did see the light of the day because the Education Ministry has taken into consideration the community's request for a secondary school in Kuala Betis.

Deputy Education Minister Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi during his visit to Kuala Betis on Feb 8 noted that the request would be brought to the attention of the ministry so that it can be included under the Tenth Malaysia Plan.

CHANGE IN THE MINDSET

"Nevertheless, we are proud that the Orang Asli have shown interest in sending their children to school of late and even proposed that the government set up a secondary school in Kampung Kuala Betis.

"It seems that their mindset is different now and we are aware that the number of Orang Asli pupils in Kelantan is increasing every year and more classrooms are needed," noted Dr Mohd Puad.

The words of Dr Mohd Puad provided some consolation to Abdullah and Osman because they have been waiting for a secondary school nearby along with 600 of the community members in Pos Balar.

The head of the School Management Sector at the Kelantan State Education Department (JPNK) Zahari Daud noted that he was happy with the report that more Orang Asli children have been showing interest in coming to school and do not return home while lessons are going on.

He said the change in the mindset indicated that they now take education seriously for a better future.

SPECIAL COMMITTEE

"On the question of teachers, I see that there is no problems as we have allocated enough teachers to teach English especially in the rural areas," he said.

These teachers are paid a special allowance for the hardships that they face during their service and provided with many other necessities.

JPNK has also established a special committee to monitor the educational development of Orang Asli children, in all the schools in Hulu Kelantan where Orang Asli children study.

He said that the committee that is also represented by district education officers including Gua Musang, Jeli and Kuala Krai would plan the best programmes for the development of Orang Asli children in the primary and secondary school.

"At the least there will be some from the community who achieve excellence including in Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) and Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM)," he said.

The government not only helps the community in education but also in various aspects and has allocated RM41.4 million this year for the community's development.

The Orang Asli Affairs Department Director General (JHEOA) Datuk Mohd Sani Mistam said the allocation to complement Orang Asli villages with various facilities including houses under the hardcore poor development programme (PPRT) is to encourage them to settle permanently in a location.

-- BERNAMA