Native knowledge: Weaving is one of the skills that the learning centre will teach to Orang Asli children to ensure its preservation. Datuk Nicol David (left) tries her hand at weaving.
The Star: Indigenous lessons for UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nicol David
UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nicol David visited an orang asli community to find out their needs.

By Lee Mei Li

Orang Asli children at the Semai settlement in Kampung Ulu Tual, Pahang, walk 10km to school every morning, going uphill and downhill through the lush forest terrain. Sometimes, they don’t make it all the way, especially during the rainy season when the muddy tracks prove too dangerous to traverse. With school being so inaccessible, it is not unusual for these children to stop their schooling. Formal learning is not of high priority to the orang asli, who prefers to invest in activities that uphold the culture, customs and lifestyle of their community. Instead of learning to read and write, children learn skills to enable them to find their living from the land.

Recently, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Datuk Nicol David spent a day at the village as part of UNDP’s upcoming release of Malaysia’s first ever Human Development Report (MHDR), which will highlight many key issues faced by different communities in Malaysia, including the orang asli. Themed “Redesigning an Inclusive Feature”, the report is an analysis of the country’s development.

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Nicol David’s vlog:
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It is essential that Malaysia continues to prioritise inclusive growth and social cohesion, and moves forward with the second generation policies that are needed to support this.
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