Orang Asli youths from Janda Baik experience their dream jobs on day trip to KidZania.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 18, 2019 — When 10-year old Ikma first stepped on an escalator, she shrieked and jumped back. “The stairs are moving!” It took a few tries and some convincing before she braved the escalator again and stepped off at the top, all smiles.

On May 22, 2019, Global Peace Foundation Malaysia (Global Peace) brought 21 Orang Asli youths ranging from 8-17 years old from Hulu Chemperuh, Janda Baik on a day outing to KidZania Kuala Lumpur.

These youths are part of Deutsche Bank's Born to Be youth engagement programme, which helps young people realise their full potential. Global Peace is partnering with Deutsche Bank to empower these Orang Asli youths, cultivating self-esteem, resilience, and social skills.

It was reported late last year in Malaysiakini that “the dropout rate based on the number of Orang Asli Standard Six pupils who have registered to enrol in Form One reduced to 17 per cent in 2016 from 20 per cent a year earlier.” The article states that “2018's dropout rate was between 13 and 15 per cent.”

While the downward trend of these numbers looks promising, it only serves as a diversion for the issue at large; school enrollment and dropout rates of Orang Asli youths in general remain high. “The reasons behind the high dropout rates have been discussed time and time again and studied by various parties. What we want is to address how to reduce the dropout rates of Orang Asli youths, how to keep them motivated and in school, how to encourage them to finish their schooling and choose a brighter path,” said Fiona Foo, Global Peace Programme Manager.

Fiona continued to comment that the activities, camps, and workshops in the year-long Born to Be programme aims to achieve this. “We chose KidZania because the youths will get to experience and role-play a wide range of careers, widening their knowledge of the different types of jobs out there. We want to help them have a brighter outlook and clearer vision of what career to pursue and how they can achieve it. It's also a wonderful opportunity for them to learn independence, teamwork, career-based skills, and financial literacy.”

During the trip, the youths had the opportunity to experience being a pilot, firefighter, policeman, beautician, preschool teacher, doctor, and more. Ikma started her day by becoming a pilot, which she enjoyed a lot although she admitted she almost drove the plane into the ocean during the simulation. When asked what she had to do to achieve her ambition, she answered “Study hard!”

Her friend, 11-year old Hasatia, was intrigued with the sewing workshop. At home, she would help her mother with simple stitching work. She learned to make felt decorations at the workshop and was excited to show her mother so that they can try to make it at home.

17-year old Reza will be finishing school this year but has yet to think about what he wants to do after. “I think I will help my parents with their farm until I decide,” he said. “Today was fun because I rarely get to leave the village and visit the city, especially with such a big group of friends. I tried being a radio deejay and I had a good time because I'm an extrovert and love to talk. The animator career was really interesting because I never viewed myself as a creative person but I found the work really cool. I enjoy playing mobile games in my free time so I could relate that with the things I learned during the animation workshop.”

Some of the careers reward participants with KidZos (KidZania's official currency) while some activities require KidZos to complete. The KidZos earned can be used to purchase toys, stationery, and gifts from KidZania's department store. It was a clever way of teaching them financial literacy and the bank and ATM machines where the youths can deposit and withdraw their money make the experience much more realistic.

“I looked after Sairi and Sunija and I can see that they really worked hard at all the jobs and were careful about their money. Sairi wanted to buy a car and Sunija wanted to buy a top from the store but they were each short about 70 KidZos. They kept counting and re-counting their money. An older boy, Fredrick, gave his money to them so that they had enough to buy their toys. It was truly a heartwarming thing to witness,” shared one of the Born to Be volunteers.

It was a day of firsts for many of these Orang Asli youths – first time on a bus, first time visiting Kuala Lumpur, first time on an escalator, first time seeing skyscrapers – but it will not be a day of lasts. The eagerness to try new things and the excitement these Orang Asli youths displayed show that the Born to Be programme is on the right track towards empowering them to realise their full potential.

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