In the work we do, we push very hard to ensure that our work is not about providing hand outs but rather it focuses on creating empowerment among children and marginalized communities. The common cliché often heard “You give a man a fish, he eats for a day. You teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime” resonates clearly in our work among Orang Asli children. Our Empowered 2 Teach Project hopes to provide education to unreached Orang Asli children living without any access to education. With education, a child is able to grow up having the knowledge and skills to break free from the cycle of poverty and to protect the rights of his or her community.
We will be starting four community pre-schools for Orang Asli children. The community pre-school project started as an initiative to address the education standard among the rural poor. According to Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli statistical figures in 2007, 7,029 Orang Asli children in Semenanjung Malaysia have never been to school. From 2001 to 2007, between 32.8% and 43.9% of Orang Asli children dropped out and failed to enter secondary school.
Orang Asli children are at a significant disadvantage as compared to their peers literally at the starting point. Most standard one classes start having the assumption that the students in the class already know their alphabets, have basic reading and mathematic skills and to a certain measure able to converse with simple English and Bahasa Malaysia. Orang Asli children attend their Standard One class hoping to learn English, Mathematics and Bahasa Malaysia starting with zero or close to zero knowledge of the three subjects. With the above thought in mind, it is not a surprise that there is such a high dropout rate among Orang Asli children. Orang Asli parents, without a strong legacy of formal education themselves do not put up much of an argument when their child decides to leave their formal education prematurely.
The pre-schools will be located in the rural interior Orang Asli communities of Slim River, Gopeng, Gerik and Gua Musang. We are pushing to get the pre-school school up and running at the start of the coming school term. We are currently doing the groundwork of training the pre-school teachers, creating a support system for the teachers and getting all the resource and teaching aid together. Orang Asli young persons will spearhead the running of each school. We will be setting up a specially made website for the schools and encouraging the teacher’s to update on the progress of the school as often as possible.
We will be announcing further information regarding the progress and development of the pre-schools on our next e-news update. If you want to lend a hand, drop us a mail at enquiry @sukasociety.org!