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KLF workshop commendable in language preservation


Group photos of the participants with guest of honour.

26 March 2023

By Nabalu News Journalist


KOTA KINABALU: The Kadazandusun Language Foundation (KLF) in conducting the Ethnic Language Support Materials Construction Workshop recently is highly appropriate and timely.


The workshop was attended by participants from the Kadazan in Penampang District, Lotud in Tuaran District, Murut in Tenom District, and Tatana in Kuala Penyu District.


Jannie Lasimbang, the Kapayan State Assemblywoman said the indigenous community of Sabah is deeply grateful and appreciative of the opportunity provided to master the Sabah indigenous languages through the Kadazandusun language subjects from primary to secondary school.


Speaking during the closing ceremony of Ethnic Language Support Materials Construction Workshop organised by Kadazandusun Language Foundation said the teaching and learning of the Kadazandusun language have been successful due to a well-structured and planned curriculum, as well as the support of textbooks, activity books, and the tireless efforts of Education Department Sabah in facilitating its implementation in schools, which has led to the successful execution of the Kadazandusun language subjects in Sabah.


“However, research conducted by the Borneo Indigenous Studies Institute (BorIIS) at University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) has revealed that the teaching and learning of the Kadazandusun language alone may not comprehensively contribute to preserving the diversity or empowerment of nearly 50 languages and 80 dialects of the indigenous people in the current Sabah region,” she said.


This is because only one indigenous language, the Kadazandusun language, has been taught in national schools for the past 27 years, she said adding that consequently, many indigenous languages in Sabah are at risk of extinction as they are no longer used by the younger generation.


“Some endangered languages include the Kadazan language in Penampang District, Lotud in Tuaran District, Murut in Tenom District, and Tatana in Kuala Penyu District.


Therefore, teaching and learning these four mother tongues at the community level are crucial steps in preserving the use of mother tongues among native speakers, especially among the younger generation, as inheritors of the language, heritage, and culture of the Kadazan, Lotud, Murut, and Tatana communities.”


Preserving endangered languages like Kadazan in Penampang District, Lotud in Tuaran District, Murut in Tenom District, and Tatana in Kuala Penyu District is crucial. Teaching and learning these mother tongues at the community level is essential for native speakers, especially the younger generation. These languages already have robust writing systems and structures for effective implementation.


The Sabah State Education Department plays a vital role in this effort, ensuring the smooth delivery of language education. By actively participating in the preservation and empowerment of indigenous languages, Education Department Sabah goes beyond being an observer, aligning with UN Sustainable Development Goals and the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, Jannie said adding that successful teaching and learning of these languages will help preserve the rich heritage of Malaysia's indigenous communities.


Datuk Phillip Lasimbang, the Yayasan Bank Rakyat Chairman said the strategic planning and execution of this workshop are in line with the objectives of Yayasan Bank Rakyat, aimed at enhancing the quality of life within the Malaysian community through education and fostering a culture of mutual support among Malaysians.


Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperative Datuk Ewon Benedick, he said, "this is especially as the workshop's objectives are aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 11.4, which focuses on "Protecting cultural and natural heritage."


According to him, this workshop signifies a milestone for the Kadazan, Lotud, Murut, and Tatanalanguage-speaking communities, representing a crucial step towards preserving these languages and elevating them to a higher standard through community-based education.


“It is anticipated that the Sabah Education Department, as a key educational institution in Sabah, will extend its support to the ethnic groups mainly the Kadazan, Lotud, Murut, and Tatana in their efforts to provide teaching and learning of ethnic languages at the community level,” he stressed.


The workshop has resulted in the creation of 8 draft teaching materials, including reference books and student activity books. Each language group has contributed two teaching and learning resources, marking a significant achievement.


This workshop signifies a milestone for the Kadazan, Lotud, Murut, and Tatana language-speaking communities, representing a crucial step towards preserving these languages and elevating them to a higher standard through community-based education.


It is anticipated that the Sabah Education Department, as a key educational institution in Sabah, will extend its support to the ethnic groups, Kadazan, Lotud, Murut, and Tatana in their efforts to provide teaching and learning of ethnic languages at the community level.


KLF is lead by Rita Lasimbang, a keen advocate of language preservation among the local community.

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