Selasa, 5 Januari 2010

Borneo Post Online (Tuesday, 5th January 2010)
Lead Stories

Own pre-school model a must

Fatimah says ‘one kindy one primary school’ impractical in S’wak where schools are hours away

KOTA SAMARAHAN: The state’s geography requires it to have a different implementation approach from that used by the federal government when it comes to encouraging early childhood education.

EMOTIONAL: A child bursts into tears on her first day at pre-school at Jalan Laksamana Cheng Ho. — Photo by Tan Song Wei

EMOTIONAL: A child bursts into tears on her first day at pre-school at Jalan Laksamana Cheng Ho. — Photo by Tan Song Wei

Expressing her concern over the Education Ministry’s plan to establish one kindergarten class in each primary school this year, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Human Resource and Training) Datin Fatimah Abdullah said the move may not be practical for rural areas.

“Our situation in Sarawak is different compared to West Malaysia. We cannot use conventional methods and adapt them in the state. We need to find our own model for rural areas,” she said.

Fatimah who is also chairperson of the Sarawak Children Early Development Council (MPAKS) was visiting Pusat Anak Permata Negara (PAPN) here yesterday with 21 other members of the council on the first day of school.

Fatimah explained that in some remote areas, young children had to travel for hours to attend primary school daily.

As a result of that, students had to stay in boarding schools instead.

However, she pointed out that children below the age of seven are not allowed to stay in boarding schools as they are too young.

“So if you follow this approach by the Education Ministry, it doesn’t solve our problems in Sarawak. We at MPAKS want to have our own model so that young children don’t need to be separated from their families at such tender age,” she added.

“My idea is that each longhouse set up its own pre-school group so that children can be exposed to an environment conducive to learning. I have seen it done in the longhouses in Bario and I am impressed,” she suggested.

“Of course there are a lot of aspects to look into so we will need to study this possibility. We must know what the situation is first in terms of logistics and funding. MPAKS will gather the necessary information and data and make a proposal by March,” she said.

According to her, MPAKS takes cognizance of the fact that early childhood education is important to the development of a child, thus aims to give as much education opportunity as possible to the children so that the state would be able to produce quality human capital. Fatimah also told reporters that a total of 22 Taska Permata under the Community Development Department and the Chief Minister’s Department throughout the state had been allocated funds to upgrade and improve their physical infrastructure, teaching materials and toys.

“There are a few taska in rural areas that do not even have electricity or water supply. Part of the budget allocated for the upgrading is to supply the necessary utilities for the taska’s operations,” she said.

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