Pilot project for Penan children to start in Jan 2016 — Fatimah

MIRI: The pilot project for early childhood education for Penan children below seven years old from five villages along the Sabah and Sarawak Petronas gas pipeline in Tutoh/Apoh area in Baram will start in January next year.

This was disclosed by Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, who said the three-week training for the selected 55 teachers, assistants and supervisors for the project will start middle of this month.

“Lessons pioneering 72 children will start in January, using the available premises and they are scheduled to use the new building in April 2016,” Fatimah told reporters after chairing the inter-agency meeting in Miri yesterday.

Also present were her husband and Education Service Bureau director Datu Dr Adi Badiozaman Tuah, senator and proposer of the project Datuk Lihan Jok and Temenggong Elizabeth Deng (both from Baram) and representatives from Petronas and other relevant agencies.

Fatimah informed that all the teachers, assistants and supervisors for the project would be local Penans.

“Since it is a community, we want the locals to be part of the project and ensure its success and we thank Petronas for making the project a reality for these children living in interior Baram where there is no nursery or kindergarten.

“Petronas is allocating RM2.75 million for the project for the five years. Currently, we are in discussion and planning on efforts to make the project sustainable,” she said.

The five villages benefiting from this Petronas corporate social responsibility (CSR) project are Long Jenalong, Long Kerangan, Long Leng, Long Kawa and Long Selulong.

Fatimah explained that the programme aims to provide opportunity for young Penan children to receive early childhood education as well as provide the local community a chance to be actively involved in nurturing, guiding and educating their children.

She further said the programme is in line with the government’s early childhood education blueprint that by 2020 every children in Sarawak will have access and equity to early childhood education be it through nursery, kindergarten or at home.

“Preschool is important for building quality human capital because it is the peak period of learning. Early childhood education too is very important for the preparation to enter formal education in primary and secondary schools,” she stressed.

Under the project, preschools and nurseries will be built in each village to ensure all Penan children receive early education before continuing their studies at the Comprehensive 9 (K9) at SK Long Bedian.

The Penan community in Sarawak has a population of 16,173 from 131 villages. They mainly live in Baram, Miri, Bintulu, Limbang and Belaga.-Borneo Post

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