Education has always been an intriguing topic to be discussed, for it’s the starting point for the development of West Papua. Education itself is classified into two different forms: one that is trained by teachers, clerics, and professors, known as formal education, and that of taught by nature which is referred to as traditional education.
Kambik and Wuon are two traditional Papuan schools that are deemed crucial amid the rise of formal education. These schools need to be revived as they are a place where the young Papuans can preserve the indigenous people’s local crafts, heritage, and culture.
Kambik: West Papua’s Valuable Asset
Kambik, which means “home,” is an education system of the Moi tribe inhabit the Sorong regency. It’s a valuable asset for the Moi people, where the knowledge of their education system is exclusively taught to the member of the tribe.
Kambik exists long before the first modern school was built in Sorong 94 years ago. The existence of this customary system directly forms a more civilized Moi tribe. Only boys (nedla) are entitled to attend this traditional school specifically selected by custom.
While Kambik is exclusive for boys, girls (nelida) still have the right to get customary education. They essentially learn about women-related issues. In the Kambik education system, students are taught about leadership, customs of the tribe, and knowledge in specific fields within 3 to 24 months.
One of the essential lessons of this customary system is the value of democracy. In the Moi tribe, everyone has equal rights to speak and express their opinions. It’s also a crucial asset for every student to be a leader who can comprehend everything that occurred and be done by their ancestors in West Papua.
After they complete this traditional education, they have duties and obligations in their hands to draw up rules containing local values that should be performed, adhered to, and implemented by the Moi people in general.
Wuon: Customary School for Meyakh Tribe
Meyakh tribe is one of the Papuan tribes in Tambrauw Regency who preserves their wisdom through their customary education system called Wuon or “home” in the local language. It’s a place where the young people of the Meyakh tribe learn about traditional values and local wisdom.
For six months to a year, boys aged 12 to 15 will be taught, trained, and fostered in a special place to be a real man aware of their responsibilities. The sons of the Tambrauw tribe will be taught considerable practical knowledge. These include growing medicinal plants, formulating herbal medicine, archery, hunting, fishing, etc.
Based on the customary rules, anyone is prohibited from visiting the children undergoing Wuon education in the forest. These kids are even only allowed to eat one or two types of food during the year of schooling. It’s one of the many ways to connect with the higher power and nature.
Wuon was born from the aspiration of the Meyakh tribe themselves. This education system is aimed to prepare an independent and self-reliant young generation in compliance with the existing local attainment amid the massive development of West Papua.
While modern education systems are crucial for Papuan children, customary education is no less critical. Wuon and Kambik are two of the many customary schools in the land of Papua that are on the verge of extinction.
Such educations are required for young people if the government is unable to provide courses on Papuan cultures. With customary education, children are expected to participate in reviving the almost-extinct cultural wisdom in West Papua.