Helping children in their studies

A Penan child demonstrating her reading skills to the audience at the closing ceremony of the literacy programme.

KUCHING: Some 39 Penan primary school pupils from Murum have completed an educational programme to help them improve their reading, spelling and writing skills in Bahasa Malaysia and English.

Initiated and supported by Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB), the Literacy for Social Inclusion Programme was developed for Penan children who were lagging behind in reading skills at SK Tegulang in the Murum Resettlement Scheme.

The eight-month programme was facilited by the Dyslexia Association of Sarawak (DASwk) and organised in collaboration with the United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the state Education Department.

It uses fun teaching methods to encourage the children to improve their reading and writing skills.

The pupils who completed the programme received certificates of participation from SEB corporate social responsibility (CSR) head Jiwari Abdullah during a closing ceremony in Long Wat recently.

Also present were SEB social investment and community development senior manager Joanne Tan, DASwk president Dr Ong Puay Hoon, SK Tegulang headmaster Anu Garing and Murum Penan Development Committee chairman Labang Paneh.

The children showing their certificates after completing the literacy programme.
The children showing their certificates after completing the literacy programme.

According to Dr Ong, the programme is geared towards enabling the Penan community to be on par with other communities in education.

She said literacy among Penan children was relatively low, with high rates of absenteeism and dropping out from school and poor performance in exams.

“Education is a fundamental human right. If a child is literate, he or she is able to participate actively in learning activities in school.

“In addition, they will have confidence in socialising,” she said.

Jiwari said education and young people were at the heart of SEB’s CSR strategy for the state.

“We recognise and value the importance of education in advancing social and economic development. Through strong partnerships with like-minded organisations such as the Dyslexia Association of Sarawak, we hope we can work towards complementing the government’s efforts to support students in rural areas requiring special attention so that they too can participate in the mainstream of development,” he said.

During the ceremony, the Long Wat and Long Malim Penan communities also received books for their mini libraries, set up to inculcate the reading habit among the young.

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