BARIO, 14 July 2017 – The school-going children of Bario are, like all children, curious and hungry for knowledge. However, because they are located in such a remote location, most of their education in English has been dependent on what their teachers can teach them from books only.
All this changed three years ago when iM Sarawak started its iM Sarawak Junior Journalists Programme (JJP) in conjunction with the Runners Wild Bario eco-tourism event. The JJP aims to develop journalistic skills amongst students in lower secondary school.
Now in its third year, the JJP equips the students with writing skills, photography skills and interviewing skills through workshops. Students are given the opportunity to practise the skills they learnt by interviewing participants and visitors to Bario during the Runners Wild Bario every year.
In order to further build the students’ confidence, the SMK Bario students have participated in an exchange programme with International College Hong Kong Hong Lok Yuen since October 2016. The students from SMK Bario got to practise their English skills with native speakers of the language by sharing online stories and pictures from their respective countries. The Bario students have even played host to a group of 9 visiting students, their teacher and parents from the international school.
Yew Kok Wing, Principal of SMK Bario said, “The school is very grateful to have been a part of the iM Sarawak Junior Journalist Programme for the last 3 years. In that time, we have seen our students grow their confidence in speaking in English. It has also made learning more fun and engaging for our students.”
In addition to that, primary and secondary school students in Bario have also recently attended an English Language workshop that is part of i-Teach Group’s English Language Community Outreach Programme (ELCOP).
The founder of the programme, Yohannis Aching is a young entrepreneur who attended the 2015 iM Sarawak Youth Leadership Programme. The ELCOP in Bario is a three-day workshop that is supported by iM Sarawak as part of its youth leadership programme activities. This is Yohannis’ second initiative under the youth leadership programme.
The programme focuses on primary and secondary school students and aims to promote English proficiency amongst the students through fun activities such as quizzes and games; to enhance the students’ confidence in using English; to complement the Ministry of Education’s Highly Immersive Programme in rural schools and to guide and improve the community’s use of the internet as a source of information and tool for research.
The workshop also included a session on Mathematics and Mandarin language for those sitting for the UPSR and PMR exams this year. Parents and teachers were able to sit in and observe the activities. They also attended a separate session where they were given tips on teaching and ways to help the students study better. The sessions were conducted by nine facilitators from Institut Pendidikan Guru Kawasan Sarawak (IPGKS), Miri and was attended by 200 students.
Lisah Tadam, Headmaster of SK Bario said, “We really appreciate that our students, parents and teachers have had the opportunity to attend this workshop. This school is the furthest school from Miri and we are grateful that the lecturers have taken the time to come all this way to conduct the sessions.”
“I also feel that our teachers have picked up some additional ideas for teaching, while our parents are now better able to support their children’s studies as a result of participating in the sessions,” he concluded.
iM Sarawak has always emphasised the importance of education as a means to improve the quality of life of the people of Sarawak. The remoteness of Bario is precisely the reason it was chosen for these initiatives.
YB Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum, Chairman of the 1Malaysia Sarawak Advisory Council said, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
“At iM Sarawak we very much believe that education is about equipping people with the skills to help them help themselves, which is why these activities in Bario include students, teachers and parents,”
“By imparting the skills required to carry on these activities themselves, the students will continue to benefit from the seeds that we have sown here. This is evident from the progress that the iM Sarawak Junior Journalist Programme has made,”
“From what I understand, it is now completely run by the teachers themselves. I am confident that the ELCOP Programme will also yield similar results. It is our hope at iM Sarawak that the community in Bario have benefitted from our activities and will use the skills they have learnt for the betterment of their future,” Datuk Joseph concluded.