Promoting values through folktales

Some of the participants of the Brunei Information Resource Collection Symposium at Universiti Brunei Darussalam. Picture: BT/Zareena Amiruddin

Friday, January 28, 2011

ANTHOLOGIES of local folk tales should be published to promote Brunei stories as such books are found to be lacking in many Asian countries, with the exception of Japan, said an expert.

Dr Chu Keong Lee, a lecturer from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore made this suggestion when he presented his working paper "Promoting values using folk tales from Brunei" during the last day of the Brunei Information Resource Collection Symposium at Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

Local folklore are well worth promoting and libraries are the organisation most well-placed to promote them, said Dr Chu.

Additionally, governments can play a part in ensuring that local schools purchase a specific number of books for their students to encourage publishers to print local stories.

"Stories play an important role in the transmission of culture in a society, in effective organisational communication and learning, in knowledge sharing and in helping to understand a person's illness experience," said Dr Chu.

His paper analysed four local folk tales published in The Singing Top: Tales from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei by Margaret Read MacDonald in 2008.

The four folk tales were The Dollarbid and the Short-tailed Monkey, The King of the Mosquitoes, Dayang Bongsu and the Crocodile and Si Perawal, the Greedy Fisherman.

It also discussed the ways in which libraries can leverage on indigenous stories in promoting the values within the tales locally and internationally.

The stories were first read as a whole to obtain a gist of the story, after that, each story was read carefully to find out what it was about and what value was being referred to.

The values identified from The Dollarbid and the Short-tailed Monkey were the importance of paying heed to good advice and the consequences of ignoring it, bravery, compassion and the perseverance of nature.

The King of the Mosquitoes emphasised the consequences of greed, bravery, not judging a book by its cover and the fruits of kindness.

In the paper, Dr Chu suggested that librarians should train tertiary students to be engaging and sensitive storytellers when promoting folk tales and their values, and then the students can be sent to primary and secondary schools to tell the stories to other students.

This, he said, was a method successfully employed by the Mahasarakham University Storytelling Project in Thailand.

"Senior citizens should be mobilised as their real-life experiences contain many valuable lessons that can be used as examples that illustrates the manifestations of these values.

"Senior citizens are probably the best people to convey these values to the young because of the Asian values of respect for elders," he said.

The two-day symposium which concluded yesterday was attended by librarians, researchers, teachers, archivists, information specialists as well as government officers.

The symposium was aimed at sharing best practices and advancements in the management and dissemination of local information collection, while highlighting efforts to enhance collections and resources for the benefit of the teaching and learning community. — Zareena Amiruddin

The Brunei Times


Feel free to comment on this article using your Facebook account. By submitting your comment, you agree to the Terms and Conditions for the use of this comments feature, as stated here.