“But the average age of marriage is around 15-17 years for both girls and boys. According to me, the main reason for this is lack of awareness of family planning and lack of financial stability. The only hope for change is through education.
My name is Puan Asma and I work as a teacher for the kindergarten we have in our orang asli kampung. I have spent all my life in this village and teaching is a privileged service for me to give back to our community.
This is the job I have been doing from the last twenty years. I teach the children very basic reading, writing, math and some crafts. But I spend a lot of time talking to them, telling them stories and I hope that through my teaching I am able to make a difference in the lives of the children who attend kindergarten.
Once the children finish their early education, most parents will send their kids to nearby local schools. But the drop-out rate of orang asli students from these schools is very high. One of the main reasons for this, as I have observed over the years, is the issue of bullying.
Our kampung children grow up very differently from kids in other towns. Some of them do not speak English very well, some cannot afford new uniforms and stationery, some of them do not even have a proper pair of shoes. Because of these reasons, our children are looked down upon and teased very often.They feel insecure, their confidence level drops and many of them refuse to go back to school after these unpleasant experiences.
Of course you still need to survive. So these children find odd jobs to support themselves and their family. In fact one of the reasons why our girls get married so early is to stop being a financial burden to their parents and often to support their younger siblings.
Many girls these days are finding partners for themselves through social media. We have some internet connectivity in our village (on and off). Through social media, our younger generation gets exposed to topics that they do not fully understand and get influenced by what they perceive as reality.
This is not very healthy for them and it is a situation we elders don’t have much control over because our overview on technology and smart phones is also very limited.
That is why I always encourage our children to get educated. Education will not only give you knowledge, it gives you the wisdom to plan your life properly.
It also opens up better job opportunities and gives you good wages with which you can not only support yourself, you can also give your kids a good education. That is how change will happen”.
– Humans of Kuala Lumpur
Photostory by Nafisa Dahodwala
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa
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(This post was first published on January 5th 2019)