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ASEAN Journal of Community Engagement

Abstract

The level of literacy among rural communities is still relatively low in Malaysia even though the overall country’s literacy rate is considerably high. Literacy rates among indigenous people are lowest in remote community especially in Sabah and Sarawak. Reasons include low literacy of the parents and poor school attendance. Initiatives for the indigenous community like the Accelerated Literacy Program attempts to bring literacy to a similar level to that of their non-indigenous peers. This study aims to develop and implement a community engagement project through the Literacy Advocacy Program among Orang Sungai who dwells in remote area in Sabah. This is study adopted Community Participation Action Research. Data were gathered through community asset-mapping form on 187 community members and focus group discussion with the community teachers (n=6) . The findings of the asset mapping exercise showed that almost 40% of the Orang Sungai did not attend any formal education. A total of 66% of household heads have no formal occupation and mostly they were farmers. Reasons include they were unable to read, write or count. The findings also showed that there is a need for community literacy program so as to empower the community in the development of the nation. Therefore, the Literacy Advocacy Program was planned using a set of Literacy Advocacy Module. The module consist of 13 sub-modules which require a total of 42-hours of adult learning hours. This program which was conducted in the community hall was participated by 21 community members. The community teachers to carry out the program learning activities were appointed among local trained teachers. Upon completion of the program, participants underwent an oral assessment to measure the effectiveness of the program. The program has showed effective impacts in the adult learning process and the community at large. It has implications on extending similar format to other marginalised communities in Malaysia.

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