KUALA LUMPUR: An NGO that focusses its work on youth empowerment has called for more personalised efforts to generate awareness of the importance of education among the Orang Asli and other non-urban communities.
There are populations in rural and suburban areas that have limited or no resources for education, according to Lawrence Low, the founder of the Malaysia Trailblazers Association (MyPerintis).
“These communities may not have the connectivity tools and educational privileges that urban youths have,” he told FMT. “Most of the time their effort to pursue tertiary education is dampened.”
He said some students in such communities would eventually come to regard education as unimportant. “When they fail to get into a university after high school, they give up and just decide to stay in their kampungs. That is potential wasted easily.”
Low said the Orang Asli do not want to feel inferior but Malaysians in general make them feel that way, making the task of connecting with them delicate.
“They want people to look at them equally and give them an opportunity,” he said, adding that volunteer youth speakers were needed to give them motivational talks and positive energy.
“There are not many people who are passionate enough to really go to the ground and work with them.”
Low was commenting on a recent news report that said indigenous youth were being made to feel alienated from mainstream society and ashamed of their traditional culture.
Alberto Gomes, an anthropologist from La Trobe University, was quoted as saying that the treatment the native people got from mainstream society resulted in a lot of social problems, such as alcoholism and drug abuse, among their youths.
On July 20, MyPerintis launched its MyEduNxt initiative to tackle the issue of tertiary education awareness in suburban and rural areas.
With only 13 people in his team, Low said he hoped to get more volunteers and funding from private institutions to enable better reach into remote areas.
“Although we have support by the government on paper, we believe in making it on our own first,” he said.
Low said MyPerintis, which has support from the education ministry, was targeting to get RM80 million by the year’s end in education bursaries and financial aid for needy communities.
“We are also in talks with PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation),” he said.
“Right now we have a total of RM40 million worth of bursaries from our five education institution partners, ranging from community colleges like Cosmopoint to university colleges like KDU University College and medical universities like MAHSA.”