By Sarah Hafizah Chandra
MIRI: The Penans are embracing the importance of education as they acknowledged the need for their community to progress alongside others in the state to enjoy a better life.
This was told by Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau at an educational assistance presentation ceremony here on Monday (Sept 28).
“The Penans have come a long way in terms of education, boasting of some 252 graduates among the minority indigenous community.”
“In the early 80s, none of the Penans went to Form 5. Even if there were any, there would only be one or two people, what more to say PhD and Master’s degree holders. This is because at that time, life was hard as the Penans lived far in the forests and have different views on education,” Dennis said.
He added that parents and children in the past did not care much about education but the perception has changed, as the current Penan community understood that education is the key to a better life.
Also present at the ceremony was Sarawak Tipun Penan Development Association (Petipun) president Temenggong Datuk Hasan Sui.
Hasan pointed out that Petipun has been keeping record of the number of graduates in the community since 1998 —155 have obtained their Bachelor’s degree, followed by diploma (87), Master’s degree (seven) and PhD (three).
“There are about 20,000 Penans in Sarawak today, and more than 250 have become graduates. This is a very encouraging achievement for us. I hope other races could also emulate the Penans in terms of education,” said Hasan.
Hasan also reminded the people to continue supporting Gabungan Party Sarawak (GPS) and Dennis who have worked very hard to bring development to the Penan community.
A total of 25 Penans received their educational financial assistance from Petipun at the ceremony.