Module 1 post 1-5

Module 1 week 1

The aim of the Borneo project is to bring literacy to Penan children through story books in their own language taught by Penan teachers or local teachers with Penan knowledge. It has focused its efforts on 3 primary schools. The project focuses on revitalizing Indigenous education programs throughout Borneo.

Module 1 week 2- Language and Education: The experience of the Penan in Brunei


The Penan tribe is an endangered tribe in Brunei with the lowest status amongst the tribal groups. They are traditionally nomadic people who have been relegated to a single village in Sukang in Southern Brunei where they inhabit a row of long houses. The Penan language receives no official support in Brunei or Malaysia (Borneo), and the languages of learning are Bhasa Malayu (BM) and English.

Brunei’s emersion education system begins in primary with the use of BM and later in upper primary (year 4) begins to move towards an integration of English until by grade 6 almost all subjects are taught in English. Penan children continue to perform poorly in school because of the lack of Penan presence in the education system, the frequent teacher absence, and heavy reliance of individual conformity and convergent thinking. The key aim of education in Brunei is national socialization in order to homogenize the population through one language and one religion.

In their daily lives The Penan children of the Sukang village speak up to 5 languages (Iban, Dusun, Penan, Bhasa Malayu and English). However, the enforced usage of the Non- dominant Language is denying Penan children of a home language, identity and self-respect.

Module 1 week 3- The act of complaining in Brunei- Then and Now


This article investigates complaints written in to the English newspapers in Brunei over a 17 year period. Although this may at first appear to have no connection to my broader topic of the Penan tribe, it reveals the use of language in South East Asia where direct complaints are seen as threatening and challenging to the hierarchy. This is particularly relevant in a Muslim state with an absolute Monarch. In a language(such as Penan or Malay) where complaints are indirect and often revealed in stories that run in a circular manner, the act of complaining can only be carried out in a second language such as English.  My readings so far reveal that the Penan  in Brunei have been unsuccessful in adopting the use of English for the greater part, and they may therefore, have essentially been robbed of the chance to complain

Module 1 week 4- The Penan still struggling to save our jungle

In this 17 minute video, the ugly side of the bullying nature of politics is revealed. I am not sure of the quality of the video but the environmental message remains the same about the clearing of primary forest, erosion and muddying of rivers. It also brings to light the plight of many indigenous communities and their inability to fight Multi -National corporations and governments in order to maintain their ancestral lands.

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