KUCHING: The Welfare, Community Well-being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Ministry is committed towards early childhood development, recognising that quality and access to high quality early childhood education is vital for the development of human capital in the long run.
The was pointed out by its minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah when receiving courtesy calls from delegates from Association of Registered Childcare Providers Sarawak and Sidma College Sarawak at her office in Baitulmakmur Building, Petra Jaya near here, yesterday.
According to Fatimah one of the initiatives that has been taken was taking over nurseries (pre-schools) in Apoh/Tutoh which cater for the Penan community, built under Petronas’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.
“This is the ministry’s initiative to provide early childhood education to the Penan community. We are aware of the difficulty faced by the ethnic group when it comes to early childhood education.
“There are some who are unable to gain access to early education due to the locality and distance. This scenario resulted in the building of pre-schools in Apoh/Tutoh area in Baram,” she said.
Fatimah added that it was also in line with the ministry’s mission, vision and objectives.
“It is critical that learning across the education spectrum starts from early childhood.Thus, providing a holistic and balanced quality early education opportunities are essential to further develop the human capital in both urban and rural areas.
“At the same time providing better infrastructure and facilities for the children’s early education institutions (IPAKK) and equipped the teachers with the right knowledge, skills and attitude in its overall development prospects.
“We have engaged with Petronas in 2015, a sum of RM2.75 million was allocated under their CSR programmes to provide access to early childhood education which led to the establishment of five pre schools projects one each at Long Kawa, Long Jenalong, Long Leng, Long Kerangan and Ba’ Selulong (expected to be completed by the end of next month).
“The expenditure covers the building of the pre-school facility, purchase of furniture and equipment, meals, allowances, insurance for teachers, assistant teachers and students, trainings and operational costs,” she said.
Fatimah also pointed out that the pre-school teachers were (source from their own community) before they attend courses and trainings at various institutions such as Sidma College Sarawak to be certified (diploma level) educators and also to inculcate the sense of belonging in developing their own community.
“To date, Long Kawa has six students, Long Jenalong (eight), Long Leng (10), Long Kerangan (six) and Ba’ Selulong (eight),” Fatimah said.
Meanwhile, Fatimah lauded the effort and initiative taken by the teachers in providing not only quality education to the children but also the parents in improving adult literacy to those who didn’t have the chance to attend school in the past.