EVERY child has the right to education without discrimination. Regardless of their social standing and financial status, children deserve to go to school, to equip themselves with knowledge and skills to become social conscious adults and contribute to society.
With the mission to enhance the quality of life by being a caring, community-oriented organisation, investment holding company Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Bhd (KPS) reaches out to school-aged children of the Orang Asal community, who are categorised as a vulnerable and underprivileged group in Selangor by the Social Welfare Department.KPS conducted an educational programme for Orang Asal students, focusing on motivation, life skills and leadership.
Through engagements with the stakeholders including parents, teachers and local communities, KPS has identified a lack of support and an environment are key factors affecting the Orang Asal children’s development. There is also lack of exposure for the children to excel in education.
Besides that, circumstances such as poor living conditions have an impact on these vulnerable students’ motivation and learning, which contributed to the high dropout rate and absenteeism.
A private study conducted in 2008 revealed that 50% of Orang Asal children quit school by the time they reached 13 years old.
Additionally, the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli found that in 2018, 39% of eligible Orang Asal students did not register for Form 1, as they no longer had any interest to further their studies.
An Education Ministry report in 2012 highlighted that only 30% of Orang Asal students completed their secondary education.
KPS’ initial research found that motivation among some of the students was lacking.
KPS also saw the need to work together with the respective school communities to instill basic learning skills including time management and self-discipline to help shape them to be independent learners.
To boost the Orang Asal children’s educational development, KPS introduced its CerDik programme in 2018.
CerDik, which is made up of the words “cerita sambil mendidik” (educating through storytelling), features a series of workshops whose modules were designed to address the issues that concern Orang Asal students aged 10 to 14 years.
In line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 which aims to ensure access to inclusive and equitable quality education, the CerDik initiative is to instil positive traits among Orang Asal students that can awaken their potential, and nurture a positive mindset that leads to a brighter future for themselves and their community.
“CerDik is strategically developed to provide a supportive and nurturing environment with consistent engagement to empower and educate the students,” said KPS’ Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Finance and Corporate Services), Suzila Khairuddin.
“The modules are in accordance with the Education Ministry’s efforts to promote 21st-century learning approach to all students nationwide.
“The CerDik modules focus on three main pillars – Learning, Life Skills and Literacy – to prepare upper primary students for secondary school, with the target to lower the dropout rate,” said Suzila.
The CerDik sessions are conducted after school hours, and KPS has ensured that all material, activities and approach are age and cultural-appropriate.
While CerDik encourages fun learning and exploration through interactive games, the intention is to raise their self-esteem, give them courage to speak up, enable them to learn leadership skills and have confidence to make decisions.
Mainly, it is for the children to feel good about themselves.
The CerDik pilot programme was launched in 2018 with 15 sessions for 50 Orang Asal students aged 10 to 14 at SK Bukit Lanjan in Damansara Perdana, Selangor. The programme was introduced in SK (Asli) Bukit Cheding in Jenjarom, Selangor.
This year, it is being implemented at SK (Asli) Bukit Kemandol in Selangor, and again at SK (Asli) Bukit Cheding.
To date, CerDik has benefited 128 (63 boys and 65 girls) Orang Asal students from three schools, while KPS invested RM240,000 in the programme.
To address the issue of absenteeism and students dropping out, CerDik coaches engaged with 256 Orang Asal parents to learn more about their children’s behaviour.
The coaches shared with the parents the importance of education, showing them ways to overcome the obstacle of sending their children to school and encouraging their children’s participation in co-curricular activities.
As a result, there has been an improvement in Orang Asal children’s school attendance:
> In 2018, attendance at SK Bukit Lanjan was between 66.7% and 87.5% depending on the age group.
> In 2019, it was 88.24% at SK (Asli) Bukit Cheding.
> More than 70% of Year 6 students of 2019 at SK (Asli) Bukit Cheding went on to secondary school at SK (Asli) Bukit Kemandol the following year – a reduction of the dropout rate by 20.6% in comparison to the 2008 study.
> In 2019, 11.8% of Year 6 Orang Asal students scored A in Bahasa Malaysia Penulisan in UPSR (Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah or Primary School Achievement Test).
With such encouraging results, KPS extended this programme with the same group of Year 5 and 6 CerDik 2019 participants until 2022, so that the benefits could be comprehensively measured.
For 2020, KPS set a target of 90% of Form 1 students at SK (Asli) Bukit Kemandol completing their lower secondary education, with an attendance rate of between 85% and 95%. KPS also aims for 60% of students passing all core subjects in PT3 (Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga or Form Three Assessment).
KPS is also targeting for 75% of Orang Asal students to fully comprehend the topics delivered in each session.
“Our goal is to achieve an attendance rate of 85% in 2020 for both batches of students, and sustain an attendance rate of 90% in 2021 and 95% in 2022,” said Suzila.
University students also benefit from CerDik as 190 of them have been roped in as facilitators for the 56 education sessions from 2018 to 2020.
This gives the undergraduates the opportunity to mentor Orang Asal students and to be involved in community development as part of their tertiary course work.
While CerDik is targeted at the Orang Asal children, the parents need to play their part to ensure that their children reap the full benefits from the programme.
Some of the parents cited work commitment and time constraint as reasons why their children don’t complete the CerDik programme.
Lack of accessibility to computers and the Internet at home due to financial limitation, and poor connectivity were also issues that impeded smooth delivery of lessons.
Despite such challenges, the KPS team will step up its efforts to conduct home visits to engage with the parents, as their buy-in to the CerDik programme is vital for their children’s educational development.