Words by Aw Yuong Tuck
Photos by Aw Yuong Tuck
Kampung Kipouvo is a village that is located 15 kilometres away from Kota Kinabalu and had their first preschool since 1993. The first preschool in Kg. Kipouvo is one of the several Community Learning Centres (CLC); an initiative established by the Partners of Community Organisation (PACOS) Trust. This preschool was spearheaded by Hilda Pius, a local villager who is also currently working with PACOS Trust. Before the school was founded, villagers in Kg. Kipouvo only receive formal education after the age of seven. Most villagers did not attend school and many of them were practising homeschooling. Plans for early education in Kg. Kipouvo were stagnant because of the effort needed to commute in and out of the village. Before the asphalt was constructed, the villagers can only enter the village by using four-wheel drives. The roads were developed in 2010 due to the influence of local politics.
Community Learning Centre (CLC) in Kg. Kipouvo
CLCs are very important to the native community especially in Kg. Kipouvo because of the unique syllabus that they have for the children. There are two main things that are imparted in CLC classes, language and culture. Malaysian government schools only require students to learn English and Bahasa Malaysia. But in a CLC, native languages like Dusun and Kadazan were also taught in class. According to Hilda, children who do not speak Dusun at all would be able to speak the language after attending the school for a year. Besides languages, the school also taught the children the way of life of the native community. The children are involved in fieldworks like visiting the traditional medicine farm and learning about the common infrastructure of the village.
One of the biggest obstacles that the school faces is trust issues with the parents. According to Hilda, parents with higher education would look down on the teachers of the school. Most of the teachers have only received formal education until Grade 9, which is equivalent to PT3 or age of 15. Some parents would even make fun of the teachers by calling them “Guru Monyet”, which directly translates to “Monkey Teachers”. Hilda however did not take the criticism negatively but instead, she took it as an opportunity to look forward in improving the school. As a proof to the community that the school is beneficial, Hilda said that there have been more than 20 graduates from the school and all having decent futures.
Hilda briefing on the CLC in Kg. Kipouvo
The CLC in Kg. Kipouvo moved into a new building in 1998. The cost of the building was funded by the village community by winning a competition as the most beautiful village across the Penampang district. They were granted RM 30,000 and spent part of the prize on the school. The monthly school fees for a child is around RM 250, depending on the child’s age. In comparison to the price in Kota Kinabalu, it is cheaper by RM 200 where parents in Kota Kinabalu would have to pay RM 450 monthly. However not all villagers could afford the school fees, therefore the school also accepts grocery or even labour works from parents.
Hilda believes that the CLC in Kg. Kipouvo will be a stepping stone for the villagers to pursue higher education. She said that PACOS Trust and other natives have been very helpful in building the school. Hilda also hopes that more villagers would send their children to the preschool and not get left behind in this era of globalisation.
In general, Tuck is an actual representation of every non-conformist.