The learning process occurs as a result of the effort to develop knowledge, to change behavior, and to realize self-potential. But, every person may have a unique perception about the meaning of learning itself. There are several factors that contribute to learning which are meaningful and valuable to consider such as the teaching of spiritual energy, self-control, understanding of the individual, and the development of the this era brain. In of globalization, education has a profound influence over the economy and culture of a society. Education is a critical factor in creating a society’s understanding of its place in a global context. Government, therefore, aims to develop its education system to see advancement for its people and society. Thus the education system, especially in Indonesia must also strive to achieve harmony and equity in communities.
The divelopment of moderenization influences the mindset of students to be competitive for the workforce and to prepare themselves for a better life upon graduating. However, many students from rural areas who move to urban areas to continue their studies begin to view local activities and local wisdom as antiquated and irrelevant. They can begin to see activities such as working in the field, forest, or as farmers as jobs for uneducated people. As a result of globalization and technological development, the education system only focuses on academic knowledge, modernism, and formal/theoretical learning. In this context, traditional cultural knowledge begins to be perceived as strange, old, not important and not interesting. This phenomenon is occurring with the Dayak youth of Ketapang Regency, West Kalimantan. There is an increasing trend for these youth to pursue their studies in the city where they become more comfortable with modernism and begin to live as city people. Ultimately, they find office work in the city, feel that this is a better life for their future, and no longer wish to return to their village.
Moving from the village to the city with the purpose of finding a better job or permanent employment in an office can rob Dayak youth of their local wisdom, traditions, and knowledge. Sadly, local languages are also lost as city youth begin to feel judged negatively by their urban peers for speaking their mother tongue. These negative perceptions of traditional knowledge in an urban setting pose a threat to the sustainability of Dayak culture and communities. Influenced by modernism through their education in the city, Dayak youth lose touch with the values they once held at their core, such as the communal aspects of village life, strong connection to their community, as well as to nature, especially to the forest. Since local languages also reflect hierarchical relationships, by forgetting their mother tongues, Dayak youth also lose touch with their place within their traditional communities and how to communicate appropriately to their elders, friends, parents, etc.
For the Dayaknese, the more you respect tradition the more you respect people. The more you know your traditions the more you know the meaning of life in relation to law, nature, customs, identity, spirituality, and community. Tradition that expresses itself as laws of nature, unspoken but real, is deeply present among the Dayak community. The Dayak world-view is grounded in nature: mother earth as a spirit, home, school, and also as provider of life resources (food, water, medicine, oxygen). Sakolah Adat Arus Kualan is emerging as a place for the new Dayak generation to reconnect with their elders, with nature, and with Dayak perspectives. It is a place where students are invited to regain their identity as indigenous people by learning the ways of their ancestors and by retaining traditional knowledge, and by learning the importance of holding their land from generation to generation.
On May 16th, 2014, activities of traditional cultural teaching and learning began in Tahak, Ketapang Regency. These activities were undertaken informally, not under the auspices of a ‘school’ perse. Then in 2017 P. Dessy Elma Thyana, as one of the organizers of said activities, met Modesta Wisa, Founder of the Sekolah Adat Samabue, located in Menjalin, Ketapang Regency. Through that meeting, Dessy and Wisa shared their ideas and experiences, then decided to name the traditional activities being undertaken in Tahak as a sakola adat. And so, Sakolah Adat Arus Kualan was legitimately founded on September 3rd, 2018. Sakolah Adat Arus Kualan provides non-formal education that teaches students through Dayak culture, traditions, and knowledge. Spiritual knowledge, traditional games, local languages, traditional cooking and medicine, Dayak wisdom, traditional music, songs and dance, traditional handicrafts, and traditional stories are all taught there.
Sakolah Adat Arus Kualan is located in Tahak, Ketapang Regency, in West-Kalimantan. As of 2018 85 students were enrolled from ages 4 through 15 years old. Local youth aged 16 or older function as volunteers to teach their younger sisters and brothers. Sakolah Adat Arus Kualan endeavours to reconnect the new Dayak generation in Tahak to their elders from whom they can learn deeply about their uniqueness, creativity, skills, and identity. Sakolah adat classes are not only held in classrooms, but more so through outdoor activities in the forest. Here, students learn about the leaves, roots, and trees that can be used as a food, medicine, or made into toys. Sometimes the students and the teacher play traditional games and toys in the field, and they use the classrooms for music and dance classes as well as for language lessons. Sakolah Adat Arus Kualan also facilitates learning about literacy and general knowledge similar to what students learn through their formal education. The reason for teaching general knowledge and literacy in sekolah adat is that there are several problems that are faced by the Dayak community unique to their village context.
First, the most common problem faced by indigenous people in the small villages is losing their traditional land to corporations such as palm oil or mining companies. Why is that happening? Often traditional land is lost to corporate entities as a result of foreign investors taking advantage of Dayak people who are not literate and who therefore sign off on land settlements without properly understanding contracts. The generally low level of formal education in the village is not sufficient to prepare the new Dayak generation to protect their rights to their traditional land and so they are left vulnerable to lose it. Lack of literacy skills, therefore, leave Dayak people unable to make their voices heard by foreign interests and leave them as targets for exploitation. For this reason, teaching of general knowledge in the sekolah adat such as literacy, mathematics, English, history and science is also critical for their future as Dayak people.