26/05/2024 12:10 PM

KUALA BERANG, May 26 (Bernama) -- The second phase of the Jungle School project by Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) in Kampung Sungai Berua here is focusing on the mastery of the 3M skills (reading, writing, and counting) among Orang Asli children.

Project leader Prof Dr Khatijah Omar said the second phase, which started last April, in collaboration with the Terengganu Education Department (JPNT) aimed at reducing the educational gap among Orang Asli children, also focused on the incorporation of other 3M elements, namely music, eat, and play.

The second phase involves nine lecturers, including two members of the UNESCO grant team, two research assistants, and UMT students as instructors. They continue the previous informal learning modules, such as 'Let's Go to the Wholesale Market' for Mathematics and 'Let's Go to the Forest' for Science, in addition to Bahasa Melayu and English subjects.

She added that elements of eat, play and music are interspersed between learning sessions to attract the interest of students.

“In the first phase, which ran from Aug 2021 to last July, we focused on engagement, building self-confidence, and sparking interest in learning among Orang Asli children, with content centered around knowledge of life and nature. 

“The students' response at that time was very encouraging... including parents who trusted us because we know they are usually hesitant to trust outsiders, but eventually allowed us to conduct this learning activity with their children," she said when met at the school here recently.

The deputy director of the Institute of Tropical Biodiversity and Sustainable Development (IBTPL), UMT said during the first phase, it recorded the participation of 40 students aged between six and 12, with the highest attendance recorded at 38 students.

Khatijah said it also met the initial target with students achieving up to 85 per cent mastery in aspects of nature and life as well as communication according to the Jungle School syllabus.

"Teachers from Sekolah Kebangsaan Berua also acknowledged that students are now more confident to speak in class after the implementation of the project, which is conducted twice a month, depending on financial and teaching situations.

"...and because phase one's content leaned towards nature and life, it enabled the Jungle School to be selected as one of the geosites in Kenyir Geopark in May last year," she said, adding that the secondary programme for 13-year-old Form 1 students has been opened at the school.

Using various financial sources, including individual contributions since phase one, Khatijah said that students in phase two are classified according to their mastery of the 3Ms, for example level one for those not yet proficient up to level four for those who are fluent readers.

Interestingly, she mentioned that they now have 11 students who are at level four.

"We expect phase two of the Jungle School to continue until April next year, depending on financial conditions. However, Alhamdulillah, funds have been consistently received from individuals and agencies.

"We are also planning for the Digital Jungle School project for phase three, starting in May 2025. Exxon Mobile, which also contributes to this project, is working to ensure internet connectivity by 2025. It is time for Orang Asli children to enjoy this too," she said.

Khatijah also said that they are developing modules and gathering strategic partners to start a project with Orang Asli teenagers who have finished school, at the request of the community, by September or October this year.

"The majority of teenagers in Sungai Berua do not continue to secondary school, so it’s good to have a programme for this group too," she said, thanking the cooperation of various government and private parties, including Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA).




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