“Literacy for Social Inclusion Programme” for Murum Penan Students

A fresh approach to learning how to read

KUCHING, WEDNESDAY, 13TH APRIL 2016: Young Penan children in the Murum Resettlement area adapting to the more rigorous demands of modern primary school education are getting additional help so that they have an even chance of succeeding in their first public examinations at UPSR level.  The one year “Literacy for Social Inclusion Programme” was developed specifically for the Penan children at SK Tegulang, one of two schools within the Murum Resettlement Scheme. The teaching method adapted by this programme encourages students' active learning to improve their reading and writing skills in both English and Bahasa Malaysia languages.  

A total of 31 primary school students are currently part of the immersive programme aimed at upgrading their reading and writing skills to age-appropriate levels and bring them on par with their counterparts elsewhere in the country. From primary 2, 3 and 4, the participants are being exposed to fresh teaching methods for a more fun and participative learning experience as an alternative means of equipping them with skill necessary to pass their first public examinations at primary 6 level.

The programme is being facilitated by the Dyslexia Association of Sarawak (DASwk) and organised in collaboration with the United States Embassy of Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak Education Department.  Sarawak Energy is supporting the programme as part of its ongoing social responsibility to the Murum HEP project affected communities, especially the Penans whose former semi-nomadic lifestyles meant children often experienced disrupted schooling.

"Sarawak Energy continues to provide support and assistance to the Murum resettled communities, focusing on education and sustainable livelihood. Currently children from both Tegulang and Metalun resettlements attend primary schools that were set up by Sarawak Energy and the Department of Education. This new programme is to make sure that these young children get the help they need, not just to learn to read and write but to pass in the UPSR examinations when they enter Primary 6,” said Sarawak Energy Assistant General Manager for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Jiwari Abdullah.

Jiwari continued, “We look forward to a long term partnership with DASwk towards enhancing the teaching and learning experience for this selected group of students who need special support and attention to enable them to be on par with other students.”

According to DASwk’s President, Dr. Ong Puay Hoon, the programme adopted a tested phonics-based methodology which was highly structured, intensive, repetitive and cumulative and multi-sensorial which have been proven to facilitate learning.

"Ensuring they have adequate literacy skills will help them to be better prepared for school life, outside of the village school by building up their self-esteem and social skills,” said Dr. Ong.

The programme also involves three teachers from the school who were trained on the teaching techniques to ensure the programme's continuity so that it can benefit more children studying at the school. Young volunteers from the communities who were part of Sarawak Energy’s Murum Penan Literacy Programme were also involved so they can become local facilitators to train children from their respective villages.  

The programme started on 29th February 2016 and among those present at the launching ceremony were the headmaster of SK Tegulang, Encik Anu Garing, teachers and members of the community including Tuai Rumah Asan Jalong from Long Malim and Tuai Rumah Kilan from Long Megan.  They also took time to participate and experience the learning session.

“We are very pleased with this initiative and it is a timely effort by all parties to assist the students who need extra support and guidance in their studies,” said Encik Anu Garing.

SK Tegulang currently has 160 primary school students and 25 pre-school students.

Localised formal education for the communities started in 2014 after the setting up of two primary schools in Tegulang and Metalun Resettlement areas, through a collaboration between Sarawak Energy and the Department of Education. Previously, school age children had to attend school in the Bakun Resettlement Scheme at Sungei Asap.

To assist the students’ educational growth, last year Sarawak Energy announced an education fund of RM200,000 mainly for the Penan communities in Belaga which also benefits the communities at the Murum Resettlement Scheme.   

Sarawak Energy’s CSR initiatives on education for the Murum resettled communities started in 2012 with the introduction of the Murum Penan Literacy Program.  This program has now reached an advanced stage and has enabled over 300 adults from the communities to undertake basic reading, writing and arithmetic.  The literacy project is implemented in partnership with the Society for the Advancement of Women and the Family Sarawak (SWAF) which received national and international recognition for the achievements in alleviating literacy among the communities.

A group photo with the SK Tegulang students and teachers, community representatives, Sarawak Energy’s Community Relations Covering Manager, Ding Juh (4th from right) and DASwk trainers at the launching ceremony of the programme

Students arranging the letter series using the bottle caps

A Penan student doing pre-test with a trainer from DASwk

Continuing the literacy programme at Long Wat in the afternoon