READING ABILITY AMONG SEMAI (ORANG ASLI) SCHOOL CHILDREN IN MALAYSIA
A report quoted recently by the National newspaper (Utusan Malaysia, July 2007) indicated that 34.31 percent of the Orang Asli (indigenous Semai) school children in year six failed to continue to the secondary school. One of the assumptions made for the failure of the school children to move on to secondary school was that their parents were not keen to send them to school. It will be interesting to see whether reading ability of the Semai school children has anything to do with the reasons of the failure to continue into secondary school. The aims of our study was to evaluate the level of reading ability and factors associated with it among the Semai school children using the Word-Sound Diagnostic Test developed by Ishak Haron. Our study showed that the reading ability of the Semai school children was poor based on the 12 reading levels from the diagnostic test: 10% of the Semai children were found to be at levels 2,3; 40% at level 4; 20% at level 5 and 10% at levels 9 and 10. Reading ability is a vital and an important skill in order for the children to be able to read and understand the sentences in the book or when it is spoken or taught by the teacher. It is recommended that the Reading Rehabilitation Program should be conducted in primary schools in Malaysia especially the schools attended by the orang asli.