Moken Ancestral Knowledge Teaching

Moken ancestral knowledge teaching projest

In 2021 Moken Islands Projects started the initiative to support the passing on of cultural-specific knowledge. The Moken teacher Keng schedules trips for the students of the Moken school on the Surin islands. This school is the only school that teaches Moken kids only which means it is the only place where Moken kids are not culturally discriminated. However the subjects are Thai mainstream subjects and hardly any Moken from the island finishes the entire curriculum. This leaves the young Moken with neither a finished education in Thai nor with the diversity of skills and knowledge of the traditional Moken way of life. The perfect solution would be to design a school curriculum specific to this school, that might focus more on environmental conservation (local species, recycling), tourism (language, public speaking), engineering (electricity, motors) and the diversity of cultural specific knowledge. The latter include craftsmanship of boats and any tools needed for that, freediving, spearfishing, making of musical instruments, music, songs, storytelling, reading of stars to navigate the sea, local medicinal herbs and plants, weaving leaves to create mats and boxes, shamanism and more. It is in our power to start with the latter set of knowledge as it is still present in the older generation of Moken.

Learning to row a Moken Labang
Learning Molem somgs

This project of the Floating Moken school uses the last traditional Kabang to start moving along the old knowledge path of the Moken that was once available to all Moken when they were still nomadic living on their Kabang houseboats. The lessons on the boat include sailing and rowing of the Kabang, storytelling in form of songs that tell the tales of rowing, fishing, love and loss, and the teaching of medicinal herbs and plants that the Moken have been using before medicine became available in the form of pills.

Learning to dive like a Moken
Sailing a Kabang

Funds are used for the use of the Kabang and gasoline and any Moken who serves as a teacher will be paid teaching salary. The first round of this project was made possible by a grant from SOS (Save Our Spirits). If you are interested in supporting this project, please contact us or leave a donation.

The floating Moken School