Several researchers such as Ahmed et al., (2011), Majee and Hoyt (2011), Bloom et al., (2011) and Phuong (2007) in their study on the development of Southeast Asia countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam revealed that at the macro level structure, most of the issues like cultural, spiritual, organizational and the world view of the local people have always been neglected. This is because the ideas of development are constructed from scientific knowledge which is generated from the knowledge of the West against the knowledge of the local people themselves (Novel et al., 2011). As a result, the ideal type of social scientists or scientific knowledge is likely to differ from the concepts and meanings used by social actors (Dicks and Pahl, 2011). Culture and tradition are always being parts of an important issue in community development especially among gender (Majee and Hoyt, 2011; Hayrol et al., 2010). This is because culture plays an important role to determine the gender ideologies that define rights and responsibilities and what is appropriate behaviour for women and men. They also influence access to and control over resources and participation in decision-making. These gender ideologies often reinforce male power and the idea of women inferiority (Phuong, 2007; Bloom et al., 2011). Culture is sometimes interpreted narrowly as custom or tradition and assumed to be natural and unchangeable. Despite these assumptions, culture is fluid and enduring. For example the study done by Moktan (2010), Majee and Hoyt (2011) and Rashidpour et al. (2010) pointed out that in the rural areas, women's needs and concern have been neglected and disadvantaged by a combination of their weakened economic positions relative to men.
In Malaysia's case for example, the development policies employed in the past 30 years successfully reduced the poverty rate from 16.5% in 1990, 8.9% in 1995 and furthermore to 2.8% in 2010 (Novel et al., 2011). However, the poverty rate by gender still differed because women were still considered poorer than men. This scenario saw that the rapid pace of development in Malaysia has given different impacts between men and women in any position. Women have been left out of development far too long compared to men although they make up almost half of the population (Hayrol et al., 2010). The reasons why women tend to be left out of development are traditional gender division of labor, stereotypical views on women, religious attitude, having children, marital status, ethnic influences and/or perhaps prejudices and pure discrimination (Johnston-Anumonwo and Doane, 2011). Majee and Hoyt (2011) and Lavers (2008) specifically indicate that some cultures do discourage or even forbid women from working outside their homes. For example, women in Bangladesh and Africa had not been able to receive the same employment levels compared to men. It could also be the attitude of women themselves, because they feel that men should be the breadwinners and thus, command higher status than women. The presence of children too meant that the vast majority of women have to remain in their homes (Yassin et al., 2010). Against this background, it is imperative to look at deeper insights on the influence of culture in educational attainment of Bidayuh men and women.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Description of study area: The study was conducted in the districts of Serian, which comprises 261 kampungs or villages. The District of Serian covers an area of 2,040 sq km consisting of 13 zones with a total population of 80,061, of which 40,085 (50.06%) are males and 39,976 (49.9%) are females (Novel et al., 2011). Out of this, only six zones were the Bidayuh areas, namely Tebedu, Ampungan, Amo, Tebakang, Kedup and Bukar. The study area for this research covers two zones, which are Tebedu and Kedup where the poverty program was carried out.
Research design: This research adopted phenomenology research paradigm. This is because phenomenology research informs the process of understanding interviewees' commentary (Dicks and Pahl, 2011; Pink, 2011). Furthermore, phenomenology focuses on the lived-through experience of an object or an idea and begins when we interrupt living experience in order to signify it (Pink, 2011). The in-depth interviews with all the informants were conducted in Bidayuh language. Informants in this study were identified using non-probability sampling, with a combination of judgemental or purposive sampling, snowball sampling and theoretical sampling. All of them have indicated that they are experiencing a change in...