Language Academy UTM reaches out to the community: a new approach to drama for Orang Asli children

An educational workshop was initiated to create awareness in the Orang Asli community about the quality of their education through drama. As most of the children of the KOA had not had formal schooling, a drama workshop was tried and tested. Last February, the Language Academy team visited Kampung Orang Asli Bakar Batu in Perling to see first-hand how the pilot project could be implemented. The site visit prompted the team leader, Dr Norhanim Abdul Samat, a process drama trainer, to work with her team to design a program for the children consisting of four teaching modules delivered from March to April 2021.

During the four-week program, four facilitators from Language Academy and two Barokah Inisiatif Resources staff members conducted the drama program. About 20 children participated in the 4-week teaching module, and Alhamdulillah, the program achieved its goal.

During the first module, the children were introduced to drama games and storytelling. At the second meeting, the facilitators introduced the children to arts and crafts and prepared props for their final showcase. The third meeting introduced the children to music where each child was given a musical instrument and asked to play the instruments according to the story being told. At the final meeting, the story was performed by the KOA children.

In order to achieve positive change in this area, the facilitators’ approach was to support the children to foster interest in education, develop social skills, and improve attitudes towards learning during the proposed program and beyond.

It can be concluded that drama as a teaching method in an alternative classroom has positive effects on the Orang Asli children. The children improved their social development through drama. They also gained new learning experiences as they participated in and performed the activities. This project was the first study to examine the effectiveness of drama in an alternative classroom for underprivileged children to stimulate the children’s interest in learning so that they would want to attend school for formal education.

(We would like to thank UTM Networking Grant (S.J130000.7606.4X563) for funding this project).

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