MIRI: Penan student Bernard Upieh completed his Master’s degree at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu last month.
Bernard, who is from Ulu Baram, is now applying to continue his studies at PhD level at Universiti Malaysia Kelantan.
He hopes to focus his research on studying the Penan community.
Benard received his early education at SK Long Seridan, an eight-hour journey by four-wheel drive from here.
All Penan pupils at the school were boarders because of the school’s distance from their homes.
Each weekend, Bernard and his fellow pupils had to walk for three hours to get back to school.
He later continued his education at SMK Marudi, a two-hour drive from here, where he remained until he completed Upper 6.
Bernard began his tertiary studies at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) in 2009, and graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in social and environmental policy.
Meanwhile, Bernard has been cited as an example of how education can bring positive changes to the Penan community.
Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau said he hoped there will be more young Penan graduates to champion development in the community.
“What’s more important for the Penan is for them to change their mindset, especially through education,” he said.
Long Bedian administrative officer Ezra Uda, who is also a Penan graduate, said the community looked forward to seeing more graduates among their ranks.
“We dream of seeing educated and graduate Penans coming together to work towards a progressive community that will not be easily influenced by people who have their own political agendas,” he said.
“We want the Penan to focus on improving their way of life instead of busying themselves with the endless and fruitless politics of selfish people.”
However, he pointed out that the number of Penan graduates from Baram is still extremely low.
Source: The Borneo Post
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