MIRI: The Penan community has been advised that it is worthwhile to invest in their children’s education.
Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau said this is because with academic qualification their children can get employment which subsequently helps them get out of poverty.
“Like other communities or ethnics or races in the country, the Penan community too has also gone through evolution in your life. Imagine if you have not evolved we will see your children still running in loin cloth (for boys) and girls running in ‘ta’ah’ or sarong or all running barefooted.
“But look at today’s school sports meet, all your children are running in proper sports attire. This is also part of the process of development.
“So if anyone comes to your community and tells you, you are not developed or worst still they claim you are being sidelined by the government, that is not true,” he stated when declaring open SK Long Luteng’s annual sports meet at Ulu Baram recently.
Situated some six hours’ drive away from Miri City, the school’s students are mostly Penan.
Dennis said the Penan community might not realise that they actually have evolved by slowly accepting development and starting to enjoy a more decent and progressive life.
“When your community decided to settle down and live a life like other communities, this is the first evolution in Penan’s life.
“Before that, your forefathers lived a nomadic life, roaming the jungle and depending on it for food.”
He believes that the Penan community would agree with him that during those times they lacked everything.
“But after your forefathers decided to settle down as a community, you started to learn how to farm and grow crops for your needs.
“When more settled down, the government came in and taught you to do farming. Even if you have to go into the jungle to source for your needs, you still have crops that provide you with the basic needs.”
The most obvious changes in the Penan community, he pointed out, was when they started sending their children to nearby primary schools such as SK Long Bedian and SK Long Bemang.
“Though at that time your community did not really understand what education is, most just went to school. Later, the government saw the growing need to build a school at your own village like at this settlement Long Luteng.
“After your children have completed their studies, they could then find a job and live in towns or cities like other communities. Some even married with people away from your community, a thing not heard of before.”
He stressed that education had truly changed the life of some people from their community, citing Ezra Uda from Long Sait, Ulu Baram as an example, who gained his degree from Unimas and is now a senior administrative officer (SAO) of Long Bedian.
“Now what you need to do is to invest in your children’s education.
“Try to earn money and save it for your children. All communities also have gone through this difficulty in life with regards to expenses to get education.
“But we have no other choice but to struggle in order for our children to live a better life through education.”
He then urged them to work closely with the school authority in their area and take good care of the school.
Later, he announced Minor Rural Project (MRP) grants for the school – RM10,000 to extend the school’s dining hall and RM5,000 each to repair the school’s water tank foundation and to fence the pre-school classroom.
He said all the projects would be implemented on gotong–royong basis.
Also present were SAO Ezra Uda and councillor Gary Hassim.
Source: The Borneo Post
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