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UNICEF: Promoting Education for Indigenous People in Malaysia
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UNICEF: Promoting Education for Indigenous People in Malaysia

The question: How do you encourage indigenous children from the remote interior of Malaysian Borneo to attend school? The answer: First, educate their parents. A new, UNICEF-supported adult education program is helping whole families to learn their ABCs. 

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Produced by UNICEF Television.

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
Mariem Anyie was born deep in the rainforest of Malaysian Borneo. For most of her life, she and her family drifted through the jungle, never living in a permanent home. Mariem is Penan, one of a nomadic indigenous people who have hunted and gathered in the remote interior of Borneo since long before written history could record it. Mariem is the first generation of her family to settle down. She and her husband are raising four children in Long Luteng, a small village situated on rolling hills of ancient forest, hours from the nearest city by boat or car. And, for the first time in her life, Mariem is going to school. This adult literacy program is a pilot project of the Malaysian government to reach remote indigenous and Orang Asli, or original people, of Malaysia. It's an effort that not only provides a basic education for the parents, but also helps them understand the value of schooling for their children.
MARIEM ANYIE
I never went to school all my early life. My mother and father and I, we were born and lived in the jungle. There were no schools in the jungle, so I never went to school. Now I know ABC, and I can read, write, and count to 10, to 20. Now I can help my children a little bit with their schoolwork.
VOICEOVER
The adult literacy class is in such high demand in Long Luteng that many parents are on a waiting list. Its success comes on the heels of a long-running program, supported by UNICEF, to boost enrollment rates and achievement in rural areas, particularly among Orang Asli children in Peninsular Malaysia and children from ethnic minorities in distant areas of Sabah and Sarawak. Long Luteng primary school faces challenges unlike schools in many more accessible areas. Some students must travel hours on foot to attend class, and they often face pressure from parents to work, to help the family's income. Teachers try to connect with children using fun and interactive teaching techniques. Classes involve educational games and other materials designed to stimulate and engage students, and encourage them to stay in school.
EDWARD NULLIE ANGGUN [Principal, Long Luteng Primary School]
I say, you can only change through education, because with a good education you can get a better job; with a better job, then you can have a better life.
VOICEOVER
And, as more parents like Mariem learn the importance of education, more children will be able to study and increase their potential.
MARIEM ANYIE
My hope is for my children to have ambition in their hearts. I want them to be successful. Maybe my daughter can be a nurse, and my son Andi can be a teacher. I will be very happy.
VOICEOVER
This is Steve Nettleton reporting for UNICEF Television. Unite for children.