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Orang Asli village celebrates new children’s folklore storybooks

Education in Malaysia
Public-private partnership aims to reduce urban-rural disparities

                                              © UNICEF Malaysia/2010/Zurin
A young Mah Meri girl presents the Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Education Dr. Khair bin Mohamad Yusof with the newly launched school textbook "Koleksi Cerita Rakyat Masyarakat Orang Asli". Looking on are ExxonMobil Subsidiaries in Malaysia Community Relations Advisor Ms. Ida Ruzaini Altahari and UNICEF Representative to Malaysia Mr. Hans Olsen.

PULAU CAREY, KUALA LANGAT, 11 October 2010 – Some 300 Orang Asli villagers gathered at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Bumbun here today to celebrate the launch of a new children’s folklore storybook series. The books titled Koleksi Cerita Rakyat Masyarakat Orang Asli (Volume 1 & 2) are a compilation of age-old folklore, put together by 20 Orang Asli teachers from the Jakun, Mah Meri, Semai, Semalai and Temuan sub-ethnic groups.

The books are an effort by the Ministry of Education, ExxonMobil and UNICEF to improve learning for Orang Asli schoolchildren in Malaysia and to preserve their cultural heritage. Teachers from 94 Orang Asli majority primary schools nationwide will be using these books as part of their teaching aid. UNICEF Representative to Malaysia, Mr. Hans Olsen, said the books are to complement the Ministry’s Special Remedial Education program to introduce alternative interventions to support learning by Orang Asli children.

© UNICEF Malaysia/2010/Zurin
Alina Gang (11) from the Temuan sub-ethnic Orang Asli group reads a story from the newly launched textbook comprising of Orang Asli folklores,

“These storybooks are important because children have an innate love for stories and stories can link not only between the world of the classroom and home but also between the classroom and beyond. More importantly is that the stories in the books are interesting and relate specifically to the Orang Asli cultural background and way of life,” said Mr. Olsen. "UNICEF believes that every child has a right to learn the customs of their families even if these are not shared by the majority of people in the country."

The process of producing the storybooks is important for the Orang Asli community as it went through consultation with, and was compiled by, Orang Asli teachers themselves.

The Orang Asli community can say these books are truly their own in content and context. The Ministry of Education, ExxonMobil and UNICEF believe the books will enhance learning experience for Orang Asli schoolchildren. The storybooks are already being used in classrooms and in some states, they are required reading in Bahasa Melayu classes.

The project is in line with the Government’s plan to reduce urban-rural disparities through improvement in learning abilities among rural schoolchildren. By making learning interesting, using content that are relevant to the community, improvement in school attendance and literacy can be expected among Orang Asli schoolchildren. An earlier study by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education showed that with the right learning tools, in this case a series of stories they can relate to, Orang Asli schoolchildren can markedly improve their reading and writing skills, and thereon continue to remain in school.


UNICEF’s Education Programs in Malaysia
UNICEF’s education programs are guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, supporting the inherent belief that all children have the right to free and compulsory primary education. UNICEF is investing in research, training, software and resource development as well as infrastructure in Malaysia to both improve the quality of education and enable marginalised children to attend school. In 2010, UNICEF is working in partnership with the Ministry of Education to support initiatives in Early Childhood Development; Supplementary Reading Programs for students in rural and remote areas in Sabah and Sarawak; the Individual Education Plan for students with disabilities; and training for the Education for All program. UNICEF is also working with the Sabah Teacher Foundation, Sabah Task Force and Sabah State Education Department to provide basic education for refugee, undocumented and stateless children in Kota Kinabalu.

For more information, please contact:

Indra Kumari Nadchatram
UNICEF Media Malaysia
Tel +6012 292 6872,

Juana Jaafar
UNICEF Media Malaysia
Tel + 6012 530 9693,





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