Abang Johari (centre) witnesses the exchange of documents between Fatimah Abdullah (left) and Abdul Aziz (right) during the handing over ceremony of SeDidik Sdn Bhd to the Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Ministry.

KUCHING: SeDidik Sdn Bhd preschools and kindergartens are now under the Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development.

The handover ceremony was graced by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

According to its minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah, the State Executive Council (MMKN) had approved for the ministry to take over from SEDC Sarawak on November 22 in 2018 to run and operate all SeDidik pre-schools and kindergartens in the state.

“Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than preparation for primary school or formal schooling, as it focuses on holistic development — catering to a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation.

“Thus, ECCE is one of the best investments a country can make to promote human resource development, gender equality and social cohesion, and to reduce the costs for later remedial programmes,” she said in her speech at the handover ceremony of SeDidik, here at Wisma Bapa Malaysia, yesterday (July 27).

Fatimah also said the decision of taking over SeDidik was a win-win situation to improve the quality of childhood education in the state.

“The cabinet has also approved RM1 million for the repair and maintenance of 26 SeDidik pre-schools and kindergartens in Sarawak, but none were in a daif (dilapidated) state,” she continued.

Fatimah then also highlighted that it was the ministry’s desire to have all pre-school teachers to possess either a diploma or a degree in Childhood Education by 2021.

“We want to focus on the quality of teachers of pre-schools and kindergartens. This also includes having the correct attitude and aptitude,” she added.

Moreover, Fatimah also revealed that Sarawak is the only state in the country to have Early Childhood Education and Development Council.

“The council is a focused and integrated effort to coordinate and ensure that children in Sarawak have access to quality equity in early childhood education.”

As of July 24, this year, Fatimah pointed out that there are 2,869 kindergartens and 236 kindergartens in the state, with 3,105 Early Childhood Education Institutions involving 81,972 students, 6,169 teachers and 3,915 teacher assistants.

“Policies and curriculum for kindergarten and pre-school are still determined by the Ministry of Education, using the National Preschool Standard Curriculum (KSPK). However, implementing agencies can implement additional programmes,” she stated.

On the other note, Fatimah also revealed the acquisition of Petronas Community Kindergarten in the Apoh Tutoh area, in order to increase access to education.

“SeDidik will take over five kindergartens in Tutoh Apoh that have been built by through Petronas Corportate Social Responsibility (CSR) for Penan children located in Long Leng; Long Jenalong; Long Kerangan; Long Kawa; and Ba Selulong.

Chairman of SEDC Sarawak, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Datuk Husain said that the decision to transfer the operation of SeDidik to KWKPK was indeed a right move.

“This is in line with the state government initiatives in streamlining and enhancing the human capital development for children and families in the state, and the move is greatly applauded as well as timely as SEDC is currently reviewing and re-strategising its core business,” he said in his speech at the handover ceremony.

The establishment of SeDidik was originally inspired by Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, the then chief minister who realised the significance of an early childhood education to the development of human capital in the state.

“Since its establishment, SeDidik has benefited more than 90,000 children all over Sarawak and as of July this year, there are 88 centres all over Sarawak with the strength of 328 employees,” he continued.

Moreover, Abdul Aziz revealed that SEDC Sarawak is currently in efforts of active collaboration with relevant agencies to provide access to children across Sarawak.

“This effort has assisted in achieving the target of the National Key Result Area for early childhood education sector in Sarawak for 2020.

“Not only that, we are also exploring possibilities of working with international bodies like Unicef in ensuring every child in Sarawak has access to pre-school education,” he added.

Also present at the handover ceremony were Assistant Minister of Community Wellbeing Datuk Francis Harden Hollis; Assistant Minister of Women, Family and Childhood Development Rosey Yunus; and ministry permanent secretary Dr Saadiah Abdul Samat.