Chung Hua primary schools to have special needs, early education classes

Fatimah Abdullah

KUCHING: Headmasters in Chung Hua primary schools in the Kuching, Kota Samarahan and Serian areas will be looking into establishing special needs and early education classes.

This was revealed after a dialogue session between the Federation of Chung Hua Primary Schools and the Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Education Ministry at Wisma Masja here, today.

Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah revealed this while also congratulating and thanking the school board for its proactive move to instruct their headmasters to use extra rooms in their respective schools for this purpose.

She noted that special needs classes had not been traditionally catered for and the move by the board to address this matter could only bode well for students who need special care and attention.

She also applauded the plans by the board to create preschool classes in their properties also to address the need for seamless education where foundational education will correlate or continue with the primary education beginning at Primary One.

“In my area for instance, there is a Chinese primary school with up to 90 per cent Bumiputera students who do not speak or have foundational Mandarin to cope with lessons once they attend Primary One.

“So preschooling with Mandarin as the medium of instruction will help them get a good foundation to be able to keep up and understand lessons when they begin to attend classes in Primary One and so on,” she explained.

“As it is, most of the rural Bumiputera students attending Chinese primary schools are severely disadvantaged and go through a culture shock to adjust to the syllabus which in turn usually also affect their performances in other subjects as well due to its alien medium of instruction.”

“With primary schools creating the preschool classes within its property, there is a natural progression for the students and the children will have a strong basic foundation to fall back on to cope with the demands of primary education,” she said.

“The state government has approved a fund of RM5,000 for each registered preschools in the state to help the schools with improving the quality of services provided such as balanced meals, upgrading teaching skills and digitalisation.”

“Different schools will need different things so we allow them freedom to utilise these funds as and where needed so that these schools can provide quality foundational education that will help the students progress once they go into primary education.

“The foundational years or formative years are also important for us to inculcate cultural understanding among races and with so many Bumiputera students now opting for Chinese schools, it is a great opportunity to further develop this nature from the onset to maintain cultural harmony in the state,” she elaborated.

Board member and educationist Rodger Chan agreed with the minister, saying, “The formative years are crucial for us to inculcate understanding among the races and will help maintain the peace and harmony among the races, which is already a trait in Sarawak.”

The minister surmised that the state government placed integration and racial harmony as its highest priority and early childhood education was one of the frontiers it saw as important in the whole process.

She pointed to a need for religious and cultural harmony to be maintained for generations to come and saw childhood education or preschool as the right place to start the process.