Children are members of families and local communities, and the languages they learn within these contexts contribute to their sense of belonging, being, and becoming to their distinctive sociocultural identities. Encouraging children to be aware of and excel in their own distinctive native languages cultivates an appreciation and understanding of the history, linguistics, and cultural heritage of their ancestors. It allows them to meaningfully connect with one another and establish a sense of self and who they are. Therefore, even though acquiring a second, an additional, and foreign language is wonderful, it should not happen at the expense of the loss of one’s native language.
Since 25 March 2022, as a part of proficiency classes, Begawan Learning Centre has scheduled twice-monthly Balinese Literature lessons. Begawan invited Wayan Armini, a facilitator of Balinese language from the Indonesian Ministry of Youth and Sport in Melinggih Kelod village, to teach the Balinese linguistic and cultural heritage to Eco Warriors. As the start of the first lesson, the Eco Warriors learned about the traditional Balinese script.
The traditional Balinese script, known as Aksara Bali or Hanacaraka, is a valuable cultural attribute of Balinese society. It is commonly found in ancient manuscripts and literature. It belongs to a class of alphabets known as Abugida, where the consonant-vowel sequences are written as units.
As the Eco Warriors’ knowledge in Aksara Bali is diverse, they used different learning activities during the lesson. Those who are in 2nd and 3rd grade of elementary school practised writing the Aksara Bali. Meanwhile, the 4th and 5th graders changed sentences written in Latin Alphabets into Aksara Bali and vice versa. While writing this Balinese traditional script is quite challenging for students, they are very keen and enthusiastic to actively participate in the learning activities.
In between the learning activities, the Eco Warriors were also given opportunities to ask questions of the facilitator related to Balinese culture. As a result, the facilitator received a lot of questions related to the unique Balinese cultural values, artefacts and events. Gek Sinta, for example, was curious about a Balinese traditional music genre called Pupuh Ginada, asking why every traditional singer sings the music genre differently.
We hope that the Eco Warriors will be interested to preserve this unique Balinese literature, aligning with Begawan’s Cultural Heritage Program, now in development. Please visit our page at https://begawan.life/cultural-heritage for more information. (Ircham Maulana)