These two areas were considered the most backward and underdeveloped in the peninsula. Trainee teachers had to get there by Land Rover because of the muddy tracks and then cross swollen rivers on rickety boats.
The journey itself would take days and the frequency of travel was limited to one per day. If the trainee missed the boat, he had to put up at the camp and take the boat the next day.
Trainee teachers who were posted to these remote places rarely returned home during the short- term breaks because of the exhaustive and costly journey. They usually return home during the November-December holidays.
And when they returned to their schools, they would bring with them their supplies of foodstuff, cigarettes and other essentials. Those days, there was neither electricity nor water supply in these remote areas.
They had to rely on generators for electricity and rivers for water. The schools were ramshackle with makeshift classrooms in a cleared jungle block.
They were built to cater for the Orang Asli children living in the nearby settlements. Teachers who were posted there rarely got posted out because no one would apply to teach in these feared and dreaded places.
Yet, young teachers were posted and served in these schools for many years. Though these young trainee teachers faced numerous challenges and problems in the Orang Asli schools in the beginning, over the years, many of them grew to love the school, the place and the children.
Many of these teachers were feted by the Orang Asli. The grateful members of the community would bring produce from crops they had planted, and fish and animals they had caught in the river and jungle.
This was the scenario and fate of the teachers in the schools of the indigenous children of Gua Musang and Ulu Tembeling some 35 years ago.
Many would have thought that the government would have since developed and built better schools and infrastructure, provided better accessibility and improved the quality of education of the indigenous children.
The tragic case of the missing Orang Asli children from SK Pos Tohoi in Gua Musang has highlighted that not much has changed over the years.
Maybe the school structure has improved, with a building and basic amenities. The infrastructure and accessibility to these areas, however, are still reliant on the dirt tracks of logging lorries and the rivers.
After over 35 years, there are still indigenous people in the peninsula living in jungles and remote interior areas, cut off from civilisation and progress.
The government needs to develop these areas and encourage the indigenous people to move and live with the mainstream community.
Schools for indigenous children should be built near their homes with proper amenities. Schools in these remote areas are still devoid of quality education. Specially trained teachers to handle Orang Asli children should be sent to these schools.
The Orang Asli community should not be deprived of quality education. This is because education is pivotal to improving and raising the social and economic status of the indigenous community in our country. Samuel Yesuiah, Seremban, Negri Sembilan NST Home News Opinion You Write 20 October 2015