SANDAKAN Feb 22, 2012: The desire to bring his family out of the vicious circle of poverty burns within Maslin Imporat but the 18-year-old faces a formidable task and has set himself an impossible mission to achieve, for the simple reason that he is an illiterate.
He has never attended school because of the school’s distance from his house.
“I was unable to attend school as it was built far from my village and it is not equipped with hostel facilities,” Maslin said, claiming that his 17-year old sister also had to face with the same dilemma.
“I wanted to be a teacher when I grow up, but I have to quit my study because of the distance to the school and of the dire circumstances of my family,” said the boy who conversed with difficulty in Bahasa Malaysia.
Maslin and his sister as well as Rickson are among 300 illiterate children living in distant Ulu Paitan who were unable to reap the benefit of formal education provided by the government.
Beluran MP Datuk Ronald Kiandeev insisted that the government has never neglected education for the poor rural children.
“If the relevant department does not identify the problem immediately, it will hinder the government’s effort to provide formal education to the people,” he said when attending the Majlis Mesra Rakyat at Kampung Matanggal Baru in Ulu Paitan recently.
Kiandee, who is also deputy speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, stressed that the Education Ministry must act fast to address and resolve the schooling difficulties faced by the children of the villages of Kaiboton, Matanggal Baru, Kinadaan and Tongkud in Ulu Paitan.
“Most of the villagers are illiterate and this scourge may be passed down to the younger family members if there is no resolve to address the problem.
“One of the best ways to overcome this problem is to build a hostel near the school to accommodate the pupils,” he said, adding that the only road leading to Ulu Paitan is only accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles and even then the journey to the nearest school takes more than an hour.
Kiandee suggested the best approach to be taken by the ministry would be to build a school within the area to cater for the education needs of the children of the four villages.
As a short-term measure, he suggested building hostels at SK Binsulung and SK Sungai-Sungai to accommodate pupils who live far from those two schools.
Kiandee urged for the issue to be taken seriously by the Education Department to eradicate illiteracy among the far flung rural community in order to provide them with a decent chance to rid themselves of poverty.
“Right now I help out my parents at the family farm,” he said. And his 17-year-old sister is also illiterate.
Eleven-year-old Rickson Dunsul said he had no interest in going to school because it was located too far away from his home.
“My ambition is to become a teacher but because of the situation we are in, I have never forced my parents to send me to school,” he said.
And 18-year-old mother Normi Robinson said she married two years ago and she, too, had never been to school.
But she was determined to make sure her own children would have the chance of a formal education.
HOW CAN WE HELP THEM?