Education is a key factor for the Penans to get into the mainstream of development, says Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang.
He said the Bakun Charitable Trust (BCT) was thus now offering incentives to Penan children to attend classes at Murum Resettlement Scheme in Tegulang and Metalun.
“We are giving a chance to Penan children to attend school. That’s why we are not focusing on their academic performance now.
“Last year, with the fund from SEB, we gave incentives to Penan pupils to go to school by giving each one RM1,” Liwan said after leading a delegation from ‘Jom Masuk U’ on a courtesy call to Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing at his office here yesterday.
However, he said BCT would soon start to focus on their academic achievements and not merely on their attendance in school.
Liwan, who is also Assistant Minister for River Transportation and Safety, said BCT had been giving incentives to Penan students in SMK Bakun, SK Tugukang and SK Metalun.
“For those who can’t continue their studies after Form 3, we are also looking for skills training for them. Under our ‘Jom Masuk U’ for SPM and STPM school leavers, we are bringing them here to visit institutions of higher learning,” said Liwan, adding that this was the third year BCT had been organising the programme.
He believed that given the chance and assistance, the Penans too could succeed in embracing modernity like all other ethnic groups in the state.
“I would like to see the Penans in the mainstream of development like other communities but the mind-set of a particular ethnic group will need at least one to two generations to change, just like us the Kayans. I believe that if they are given the same opportunity, the Penans too can succeed.
“Like in my case, my own sister was not encouraged by my parents to study even though she was one of the brightest in my class,” Liwan lamented.
Meanwhile, Liwan thanked Sarawak Energy Bhd for its continuous commitment and support of Penan education in Belaga and those affected by the Murum HEP by contributing to the BCT.
Nearly 300 Penan children are studying at the two primary schools in Tegulang and Metalun.
The fund is specifically used for the delivery of education support for the Penans in Belaga District including seven resettled villages affected by the Murum HEP.
The beneficiaries are residents of six Penan villages and the sole Kenyah Badeng village in Murum Resettlement Scheme and another 19 Penan communities from throughout Belaga District.
The RM200,000-fund from SEB which is replenished annually, is meant for various programmes including academic incentive awards for students in primary and secondary schools and financial aid for students pursuing tertiary education at approved higher learning institutions in the country.
Source : Peter Sibon @ Borneo Post Online