The Orang Asli from villages in the interiors of Gua Musang, Kelantan, have decided to stop sending their children back to the SK Tohoi boarding school, from where seven pupils had run away and got lost in the jungle for more than a month.
They are adamant their 60-odd children stay away from the school situated some two hours through logging tracks from their villages.
The Orang Asli folk are blaming the boarding school for recklessness and refusal to take responsibility for the incident, which left four of the victims dead.
Kelantan Orang Asli Village Network youth chief Dendi Johari said the Orang Asli, who are from the Temiar tribe, have refused to send their children to the school for fear of what had happened to the seven children.
“All my people in Gua Musang, from Pos Simpul, Kampung Sedal, Kampung Penad and Kampung Gawin, don’t want to send their children to the school in Pos Tohoi,” he told The Malaysian Insider when met at Kampung Penad.
“They don’t ever want to send their young kids to schools far away because of what happened to the children.”
The seven – Mirsudiar Aluj, 11, Norieen, 10, Ika Ayel, 9, Sasa Sobrie, 8, Haikal Yaacob, 8, Linda Rosli, 8 and Juvina David, 7 – went missing on August 23 from the school hostel in Pos Tohoi, which is located about 60km from Gua Musang town.
They are believed to have run away from the boarding school after being allegedly warned of punishment by teachers for swimming in a nearby river without permission.
Ika, Haikal, Linda and Juvina were found dead and were laid to rest on Sunday while Mirsudiar and Norieen (Haikal’s older sister) were found alive, but in a malnourished state on October 9.
The two are still recuperating at Raja Perempuan Zainab II (HRPZII) Hospital in Kota Baru.
Sasa has yet to be found.
However, they said they were shocked that the school authorities had only discovered their children some eight hours after they were believed to have run away.
They also slammed the school for sending letters, threatening to expel their children for failing to show up in school since they went missing.
The teachers, the parents said, have also yet to meet them following the incident.
The school authorities could not be reached for comment.
“My people, they all want good education for their children. I will not stand and see others saying that Orang Asli people don’t want their children to be educated, that is not true,” Dendi said.
“But if they have to send their children to a faraway school, it is not good. You see what has happened. They don’t know what is happening in school. And some don’t have motorbikes or cars so it will be hard for them to visit their children.”
Dendi said previously there were about 15 to 20 teachers and some 120 pupils in the school but now, only children from Pos Tohoi went to classes there.
“They live in the village itself. They go to school and go home. They don’t have to live in the hostel.”
He urged the government to look into building smaller schools in the interior so that parents would not be forced to send their children far away and not see them for months.
“We want to request for this. I think it will be good because education is important and they will not send their kids back to SK Tohoi.
“My people want and need good education for their children. The government must think of our situation here and help us solve our problem.” – October 27, 2015.
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