Kambik, the Unique Tribal Education System in West Papua

goodmorningpapua.com – The Moi, a native tribe of Sorong, West Papua, are known to have a unique tradition which is different from the modern lifestyle. The Moi have their own culture, language, social organization, and education system called Kambik. Kambik makes the Moi even more and more extraordinary because it is very uncommon as a tribe to have its own education system.

Kambik became a very important treasure for the Moi people and its knowledge was taught exclusively to the members of the tribe. The first modern education system existed in Sorong in 1927 when the colonial government established a formal school with 26 students. In 1970, the formal schools were still very rare in the West Papua.

However, because the Moi tribe has its own education system, the Moi people are never uneducated. The ‘lessons’ taught in Kambik are, of course, very different from those that students learn in formal schools.

Kambik teaches students a variety of knowledge, ranging from leadership, tribal traditions, as well as various skills such as fishing and farming. As with formal schools, a student will earn an academic degree after graduating from Kambik.

The study period lasts from six to 18 months. Meanwhile, the teachers of the Kambik system are men who first graduated from informal schools. Kambik taught so many important values ​​to the Moi children. One of the most important lessons from Kambik is the value of democracy. In the Moi tribe, everyone has equal rights to speak, express their thoughts and also to lead.

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As a result, the Moi’s younger generation will grow up to be people who can respect other people’s opinions. Kambik also teaches important knowledge about medicine, agriculture and fisheries. They live with nature and the younger generation is taught to respect and preserve nature. Thus, the Moi people grew up to be the skilled people who could take advantage of what nature had provided without destroying it.

This is also the reason why the Moi tribe still protects the forest from people who want to turn the forest into an oil palm industry. Of course, all the sciences of agriculture, fisheries, medicine and other subjects taught in Kambik are still traditional and less sophisticated than modern science.

However, the Moi tribe had lived a simple life and no difficulty with the knowledge. It is an undeniable fact that not all modern knowledge and technology is superior. Kambik teaches many great philosophies of Moi life as well as meaningful traditions.

It introduces young people of Moi about democracy, how to preserve culture and also protect the environment. It’s a pitiable if this valuable knowledge is lost because of modernity. Many important Moi figures want to revive Kambik and it is certainly a good thing to preserve our precious tradition. However, awakening Kambik did not mean that the Moi boys would not accept the modern education system.

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The two education systems can actually go hand in hand. A modern education system is needed to build West Papua, but Kambik is also needed to preserve its precious traditions and culture. If the plan to revive Kambik really materializes, West Papua will have a skilled and talented young generation who respect their culture and traditions. 

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