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The gift that keeps on giving – how the Iskul community school pays it forward

MALAYSIANSKINI | Six years have passed since the community-run school Iskul Sama DiLaut Omadal was established on Omadal Island, off Semporna in Sabah.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving – a place where dedicated children who went to government schools teach their less fortunate Bajau Laut peers crucial skills.

Now the first batch of students has grown up and taken on the mantle of being teaching assistants, otherwise known as mastal arikik in the Bajau language, for the next set of students.

Enidah, 18, Bilkuin and Delah, both 17, were once students at Iskul but now they are paid a monthly wage to help teach a class of 30 students subjects such as reading, basic arithmetic and how to communicate in Bahasa Malaysia.

Malaysiakini recently spoke to the three of them with the help of Iskul teacher Jefry Musa via a WhatsApp video call. The interview was conducted mainly in Malay with Jefry and Bilkuin translating at certain times.

Like most from the Bajau Laut community in Malaysia, the three teenagers are stateless as they do not have official documentation and this restricts their access to education, legal protection and welfare.

The three of them were quite shy throughout the interview, although Bilkuin quickly became more open and eager to share his experiences.

On a couple of occasions during the interview, before Bilkuin could...

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