93% at early childhood education institutions fully vaccinated

Fatimah (first row, third column) speaks when officiating at the Sedidik webinar programme on ‘Restoring the Mood of Educators Post Covid-19’ which was held via Zoom.

KUCHING: Ninety-three percent of the total numbers of educators, carers, and their assistants at early childhood education institutions (IPAKKs) in the state have been vaccinated as of July 10.

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said this amounted to 9,429 vaccinated out of a total of 10,133, with 704 yet to receive their vaccine as of July 10.

Of the 9,429 vaccinated, there were 4,948 educators and 3,585 assistant educators from tadika (kindergartens) and preschools as well as 751 carers and 145 assistant carers from taska (nurseries).

“I would like to congratulate Salina Bujang, early childhood development division head, and her team who have worked hard in monitoring and persuading the teachers to go for vaccination.

We have worked with the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) and vaccination centres (PPV) at the division and district levels to give priority to educators, carers, and assistants at taska and tadika,” she said.

She said this was one of her ministry’s efforts to ensure that these IPAKKs could operate at this time.

“As of July 29, 393 taska and tadika are operating during Phase 2 of the movement control order (MCO). This total comprises 123 taska and 270 tadika which are registered throughout Sarawak, with a total number of 16,794 children,” she said.

Fatimah said this when officiating at the Sedidik webinar programme on ‘Restoring the Mood of Educators Post Covid-19’ which was held via Zoom today (31 July).

She added that Kemas and Perpaduan preschools still could not operate at this time but hoped that they could resume operations in the near future.

She said her ministry tried its best to ensure that IPAKKs in Sarawak could be opened even during the current circumstances, as taska and tadika played a crucial role in providing a support system for working parents, some of whom were frontliners or involved in essential services.

“We know that in educating our children at this age, nothing compares to face-to-face lessons. This is because early childhood education (ECE) is very child-centred — each child is different,” she explained.

She said there were many challenges with home-based teaching and learning (PdPR), especially in Sarawak, such as limited internet coverage and a lack of devices among rural households.

“Even in the urban areas, there are challenges. For instance, parents are not trained to be teachers or even assistant teachers so they may feel less confident in helping their children in PdPR. At the same time, those who are working from home also need to focus on their work,” she said.

Fatimah also highlighted the importance of quality ECE.

“We should capitalise on the tremendous brain development during this stage by providing them with quality education. We know that quality pre-education will provide a very strong foundation for quality human development in the future,” she said.

“The government has shown that it is not just access but also the quality of education and teaching at IPAKKs which is very important, especially for children from the B40 category,” she added.

As such, she said there was a need for a catch-up plan for IPAKKs to make up for lost time in terms of educating young children.

On the Special Annual Grant (GTK), she said by June 30 this year, 2,864 applications were received and of these, 1,593 (56 percent) had been approved thus far.

She said last year had seen 2,958 IPAKKs receive the GTK while 2,868 IPAKKs received the grant in 2019.

“We hope that taska and tadika will apply for the GTK as the government has provided the allocation for the use of these IPAKKs to ensure that the facilities are available,” urged Fatimah.