Penan youths thank centexs, SEB and BPEF

KUCHING: Life was so tough for a Penan youth Joseph Jubang, 27, that by Form 3, he had to quit his studies at SMK Belaga. “In those days when we were still living in Long Malim, we had to walk for two days to reach SMK Belaga. Even though I always wanted to pursue my studies, my father could not afford it so I stopped after Form 3,” Joseph said when interviewed here yesterday. A ray of hope came with the setting up of Belaga Penan Education Fund (BPEF) two years ago which provides a chance for people like Joseph to obtain vital skills to join the competitive job market. With the opportunity,Joseph’s life has changed and now he is one of the success stories of the settled Penans in Metalun and Tengulang (Resettlement Scheme). “Now with my certificate, I’m ready to work wherever there is better opportunity. My dream job is to work in the oil and gas company such as Petros or Petronas in future,” he said. Today, Joseph is one of 20 Penan youths from Murum area who has successfully completed skilled training from Centre of Technical Excellence Sarawak (Centexs) in Welding Technology (6G Advance and 3G Plus). Armed with a Centexs certificate, he is able to earn RM70 per day at the Petrajaya Hospital site as a welder. “I consider myself very lucky to be given the opportunity to pursue the training. I hope that other Penan students would take up their education seriously so that we can progress like any other communities in the country.” Joseph also thanked Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), BPEF and Bakun Trust Fund (TAB) for giving him the chance to be trained, and also fellow youths to advance in their lives. Another Penan youth from Murum, Bekaren Asan who has successfully completed his course at Centexs, is also able to get employment at the Darul Hana project site in Petra Jaya. Bekaren hoped that other Penan youths would also take up the challenge to equip themselves well before joining the job market. Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang said the main objective of setting up BPEF was to encourage the Penans to love education from pre-school right up to university level. “However, in future, we will slowly abolish the various incentive schemes and we will instead focus on their pursuit of education excellence including job placement,” added Liwan, who is also BPEF chairman. Liwan, who is Assistant Minister of Water Supply thanked SEB for the RM200,000 annual funding for BPEF and TAB chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing for assisting the Penans and to ensure BPEF achieve its objective. “Our hope is for the Penans to progress like any other communities in Sarawak through proper guidance and assistance from all stakeholders especially government agencies and SEB,” added Liwan. SEB collaborates with TAB to deliver education support to the Penan community in Belaga including the seven resettled communities in Murum resettlement scheme. Through academic improvement programmes for students in primary school and youth skill training, a total of 20 Penan youths have graduated from Centexs in Welding Technology (6G Advance and 3G Plus), Mechatronic (Port Equipment), Chargeman Level 1, and Information Technology in December. Also, nine female Penan youths from Long Wat in Murum are currently undergoing their Professional Diploma in Hair Design and Make-Up. Since the start of the collaboration, there has been improvement on(pupil) attendance in SK Metalun and SK Tegulang. Other incentives provided by SEB include providing transportation, uniform and stationeries for pupils in SK Tegulang and SK Metalun since 2014; football development programme for rural youth – Murum team emerged 1st runner-up; transportation support for food and cash delivery. As part of SEB’s CSR programmes, it also supports the transportation cost of RM70 per household for food delivery, totalling RM24,710 per month. SEB also provides Belaga District Office with RM2,400 per month on transportation to deliver the cash support SEB also assists in the Handicraft Development Programme for the Murum Penan Artisans since 2014 which also include workshops for commercially viable products with contemporary design and to encourage the community to enhance their skills and product quality to make handicraft production an income-generating activity. The Murum Penan artisans also participate in exhibitions to sell their products and gain exposure and knowledge-sharing with other communities which also facilitates and encourages the mentoring and teaching between skilled senior artisan and semi-skilled or young Penan girls in handicraft-making while preserving their Penan indigenous identity.
Bekaren works at Darul Hana project in Petrajaya.
Joseph at his work place.
Joseph’s younger brother Kennedy Kuleh, 23, has a job in Bintulu as a welder, also a Centexs graduate in welding technology.
  (Taken from The Borneo Post)
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