2,437 early childhood institutions closed, 268 still operating

Fatimah (centre, front row) with others during the visit.

KUCHING: A total of 2,437 early childhood education institutions (IPAKKs) in Sarawak are temporarily closed in light of the Covid-19 situation in the state.

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said of the total, 325 IPAKKs are in Sibu Division.

“They were not allowed to operate throughout the movement control order (MCO) period which was announced by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) on Jan 27.

“For other divisions, a total of 1,006 preschools under the state Education Department, 991 IPAKKs under Jabatan Kemajuan Masyarakat Negeri, 105 kindergartens under state National Unity and Integration Department and 10 SeDidik kindergartens were closed throughout the conditional movement control order (CMCO) period,” she said in a statement after visiting four operating IPAKKs here today (Feb 8).

However, she informed that other IPAKKs in the private sector excluding the ones in Sibu Division are still operating with strict compliance to the existing standard operating procedure (SOP).

“As of Feb 7, a total of 268 private IPAKKs involving 6,608 children are operating in the CMCO areas.

“Of these, 68 IPAKKs with 2,262 children are in red zones, 153 IPAKKs with 3,737 children in orange zones, 32 IPAKKs with 418 children in yellow zones and 15 IPAKKs with 191 children in green zones,” she added.

At the same time, Fatimah informed that the new registration procedure for private IPAKKs in the state — One-stop Registration Procedure (OSRP) — had proven fruitful as it was able to cut short the registration process from 93 to 65 days.

“Operators can take the registration form and obtain consultancy advice on the registration process for nurseries and kindergartens from the officers of Divisional Social Welfare Office and state Education Department or its district offices, respectively,” she said.

She also mentioned that the ministry had issued the post Covid-19 SOP to all agencies and IPAKKs throughout the state.

“The operators or supervisors have to ensure that the attendance of children is 50 percent of the institution capacity. The teachers, staff and children must also wear face masks except for babies.

“All institutions are advised to refer to ‘SOP: Post-Lockdown Guidelines For Early Childhood Centres’ issued by the National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC) to ensure the implementation of strict SOP for the safety of everyone,” she added.

Elaborating on the IPAKK registration, Fatimah said a total of 2,828 IPAKKs and 235 nurseries have registered as of Dec 31 last year, bringing the total number of IPAKKs in the state to 3,063 with 81,244 children, 6,500 teachers and 4,102 supporting staff.