Sarawak Energy to Support Literacy Programmes for Penan Women

Kuching, Sarawak, 30th January 2012 - Sarawak Energy Berhad recently signed a partnership agreement with the Society for the Advancement of Women and the Family, Sarawak (SAWF) to support literacy programmes targeting Penan women.

The project, which is one of Sarawak Energy's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, is being undertaken in partnership with SAWF in the communities to be resettled by the Murum Hydro Electric Project (HEP). The objective of the project is to promote literacy in the selected communities and help them to be better prepared for changes from the expected resettlement.

An initial feasibility study was carried out by SAWF and Sarawak Energy to understand the needs of the communities and due to the overwhelming response the project was fast-tracked. The first round of training is now expected to be carried out in February and a number of Penan women have come forward to support the project as facilitators.

Joanne Tan ( 陈楚燕 ),  Manager Social Investment at Sarawak Energy says, the protection and empowerment of vulnerable groups in a community, especially women, is one of the key aspects in the resettlement process for project affected communities. 

“Literacy is a foundation to alleviating poverty, improving family and public health for an enhanced quality of living. It is an essential prerequisite for capacity building on parenting, primary health care, education and other community development training,” says Joanne.

Maria Peter, Project Coordinator SAWF says she believes the project will have a positive impact on the current state of illiteracy among the Penan in Murum.

According to Maria, in most rural communities, many young women at the age of 10-16 are often among those taken out of school to help at home and thus allowed to lapse into illiteracy.  

“We recognise that women or mothers are the first educators of the next generation and this program is especially targeting young women and girls,” says Maria, adding that men who are interested in the program will also be welcome to join.

Sarawak Energy has recently defined its CSR strategy and plan and identified several priorities, projects and partners to ensure that the organisation has a positive impact on local communities.