Kota Kinabalu: The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has decided to uphold indigenous education as the main activity under its Indigenous People's Rights Committee.
Its Commissioner, Jannie Lasimbang, who disclosed this, said the activity will be implemented jointly with the commission's Human Rights Education and Promotion Working Group in Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.
Education is the main way to ensuring the development of indigenous people individually or collectively, she said, adding it is a precondition for the indigenous people to achieve the rights of identity as well as continuity for their own economic, social and cultural development.
"The indigenous education rights include rights to prepare and receive education through traditional teaching and learning methods, and rights to their own perspective, culture, belief, values and language in their mainstream education system," she said.
Speaking at the opening of an indigenous education workshop organised by Suhakam here Monday, Lasimbang said the government is obliged to ensure a quality education for the indigenous people without discrimination, according to standards under the international human rights and adjustable to situations and the indigenous people's interests.
She said the government should pay attention to the past mistakes, including cast off stereotyping, the inappropriate terms and negative elements which refer to indigenous people in the textbooks and education materials.
"The government also should encourage education in between culture, developing and implementing sternly provisions that eliminate discrimination towards the indigenous people in the education system," she said.
Meanwhile, Lasimbang said a lot needs to be done to solve issues particularly those related to indigenous youth who either drop out or cannot continue with their schooling.
She said she had discussed this with the Partners of Community Organisations (Pacos), Kadazandusun Language Foundation (KLF) and Sabah Education Department which all agreed on the matter.
"We need to see how to deal with their existing traditional knowledge and which Ministry should be addressing this," she said.
Monday's workshop was in response to the call for attention and understanding on indigenous education rights in Sabah, she said.
This is besides identifying actions with the purpose of fulfilling the indigenous education rights, while at the same time surveying the needs to get acknowledgement and support towards indigenous education.
Also present were KLF CEO Rita Lasimbang, Pacos Executive Director Anne Lasimbang, Pacos Trust's Integrated Community Development and Education Programme Co-ordinator Rufina Koyou, State Education Department's Private Education and Special Education Sector's Registration and Standards Unit Assistant Director Jennifer Anjik.