Tuesday, March 28

Kindergarten teaches Dusun language for free

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Chua (left), Benedict (second left), Joseph (third left) and Ian (right) posing with the headmaster, teachers and students at the new playground.

KOTA KINABALU (March 18): In a village located around two hours’ drive from the city of Kota Kinabalu, a rural kindergarten situated at the top of a hill is providing free education to the children there.

Tadika Ceria Kadazandusun in Kampung Tiong Monggis, Tamparuli, is known to be one of the few kindergartens here that provides basic Dusun language learning.

It was built with the preservation of the ethnic culture and language in mind, considering many of Sabahans’ mother tongue has eroded over the years.

Requiring traversal of hilly terrain and dense forestry, the dainty establishment consists of a small wooden structure, a futsal court and more recently, a playground.

Managed by its headmaster Chrisnelia Asing, it was built in 2008 and then taken over by the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) in 2015.

The students there are not charged any school fees as the costs are covered by KDCA, overseen by Bulawan Sigah Datuk Joseph Paulus Lantip.

Eleven students had graduated from the institution last year and around 15 more have registered for this year’s session.

It currently has two qualified teachers, Ebby Mairdalinah and Brenda Osoi who teach English, Bahasa Melayu, Mathematics, Science, Moral Studies and the Kadazandusun language.

On Saturday, the kindergarten atmosphere was kindled with the unveiling of a new playground, funded by the Cheng and Co Foundation.

This came after the foundation’s Hungry Harimau golfing charity event which raised RM18,000 for the playground construction.

An immediate allocation of around RM8,000 was also provided to build a fencing around the playground.

Cheng and Co Foundation executive chairman Datuk Dr Chua Hock Hoo hopes that with the new amenity, the children there can learn while bettering their physical health.

He stressed that children should not only study inside classrooms but they also need to go out and play as it is part of the growing up process.

“Since the foundation establishment in 2011, we have always been doing our best to help the less fortunate in Sabah through various initiatives such as the Hungry Harimau events,” he said.

Their previous two Hungry Harimau invitationals had garnered RM181,800, which was also donated through charitable events.

“The events have proved successful in not only showcasing golf talents but also raising funds for such efforts that benefit the community.

“With the new playground, the students can have fun during their learning process which I hope will translate into their success in the future,” he added.

Aside from the playground initiative, the foundation has also been providing scholarships and has collaborated with public universities here to provide training in the field of accounting.

Not only that, they had also created a women’s leadership centre and implemented related programs in line with their vision of empowering women.

Chua said that they will continue to carry out charitable activities to not only ensure the welfare of the younger generation is taken care of but also provide assistance to people from all walks of life.

Meanwhile, Joseph, who officiated the launch with Sabah Native Affairs Council (MHEANS) president Tindarama Dr Benedict Topin, lauded the foundation’s noble efforts.

He said the playground can not only provide entertainment to the students but also act as a form of incentive to attract more children to enroll at the kindergarten.

Joseph added that KDCA plans to set up more of such kindergartens in various Sabah districts including Pitas, Keningau and Kota Marudu but financial constraints are dampening their efforts.

“We have been discussing this matter in our central committee. Even our deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili has expressed his interest in setting up one in Kota Marudu.

“However, we not only face financial issues but also in finding teachers with the appropriate Kadazandusun language qualifications.

“Hence, I have intentions to bring this up to the government. As one of the many ethnic groups in Sabah, they should support our effort and shoulder this responsibility together,” he said.

To help maintain and preserve the playground, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed between the kindergarten and KDCA.

Also present were Ian Quek Jui Meng and other members of the Cheng and Co Foundation.