Photo: Ghazali Bujang

In this modern era when most families have two working parents, the need for childcare centres, especially those at workplaces is evident.

In previous times, it was common for members of the extended family to mind the children while their parents worked, but this may not be a viable option for everyone — especially those who have moved away from their hometowns for their careers.

“Childcare centres are an important support system, allowing parents to work with peace of mind as they know their children are safe at registered nurseries and kindergartens and receiving quality care and education by trained teachers,” said Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

Recognising the importance of early childhood development, RM36 million was allocated for this year under the State 2020 Budget.

Of this, RM16 million will be distributed to registered nurseries and kindergartens and RM20 million will be allotted to SeDidik — a subsidiary of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) that provides early childhood education as well as before- and after-school care.

A grant of RM5,000 is given to every registered nursery and kindergarten in Sarawak to support teaching and learning.

Fatimah is hopeful that there will be a total of 34 registered childcare centres at workplaces by the end of this year.

According to her, 10 of these are already operating and 14 are pending registration. Meanwhile, four more under the federal government’s RM520,000 allocation last year are expected to start soon and she said there were another six applications under the state government’s RM1 million allocation.

The six under the state government’s allocation are located at state agencies and include the Public Works Department (JKR) Samarahan office, Land and Survey Department headquarters, and Baitulmakmur Building.

She said it was convenient to have childcare centres at the workplace as teachers could easily contact the parents if required, while parents could also visit during their lunch hours.

“Our focus in early childhood development is to provide a support system of quality nurseries and kindergartens,” she said.

Based on last year’s statistics, Fatimah said there were a total of 2,910 kindergartens with 81,302 children registered and 172 taska with 2,537 children registered.

According to her, last year also showed that about 99 per cent of Primary 1 children had received early childhood education, a sure sign that the state government’s mission of providing access to early childhood education has been realised.

Photo: Ghazali Bujang