On November 24, 2023, a meeting transpired between the Wikimedia Community User Group Malaysia and the Ethnic Language Unit of the Ministry of Education Malaysia (KPM) in Putrajaya.
The central focus of this meeting was a profound exploration of strategies aimed at fortifying ethnic languages in Malaysia, with a particular emphasis on contributing substantively to the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032—a global initiative championed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)1.
During the meeting, our representatives introduced Wikimedia projects to the KPM, elucidating the various ongoing Wikimedia initiatives implemented in schools and educational institutions. These discussion, notably centered around ethnic languages, included activities such as Wikikata. A primary concern addressed was the accessibility of ethnic language words, with the aspiration that collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Culture could facilitate an increase in word entries on the Wikimedia project, mainly Wikikamus, along with the inclusion of pronunciation audio for these words. The ultimate goal is to establish Wikipedia content for the ethnic languages present in Malaysia, with an initial focus on those in Sabah.
Another salient point of discussion centered on the imminent threat of language extinction, given that 80% of the 133 languages in Malaysia are indigenous2, many of which face limited usage. Currently, 95 of these languages are classified as endangered, signaling a pressing need for concerted efforts to preserve the languages of the indigenous communities in Malaysia.
The conversation also aimed at integrating Wikimedia programs into the new curriculum and co-curriculum by 2027. Preliminary initiatives were already underway, including the establishment of the Program Jalinan dan Jaringan Asrama Desa: Wikipedia Melahir Penulis Dunia program led by the Sandakan District Education Office in Sabah.
Appreciation is extended to Mrs. Sarina binti Salim, Deputy Director (Language and Literature Sector) of the Curriculum Development Division; Mrs. Sandra Logijin, Chief Assistant Director (Ethnic Language Unit); and Puan Mutiara binti Megat, Assistant Director (Ethnic Language Unit), for their openness in engaging with the representatives of Wikimedia Malaysia.
- Yusia, F. D., Ganesan, K., Wong Kon Ling, J., & Govindasamy, A. R. (2022). Kosa Kata Arkaik Dari Uyu’ Naso Anak Di Long Pasia: Satu Kajian Keterancaman Bahasa Lundayeh [Archaic Vocabulary from Uyu’ Naso Anak in Long Pasia: A Study of the Threats of the Lundayeh Language]. MANU, 33(1), 131-155. https://doi.org/10.51200/manu.vi.3379
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