The Sarawak government has approved special annual grants (GTK) totalling RM16 million since 2019 to assist registered early childhood institutions in the state, Sarawak Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Fatimah Abdullah said today.
Under the GTKs, she said, each registered early childhood institution was entitled to a RM5,000 grant for the provision of balanced and healthy meals, fun learning, professional development for teachers and caregivers, and activities involving parents.
“To cushion the impact of Covid-19, especially for private early childhood education institutions, the ministry allowed the GTKs to be used for helping operators pay rental and salaries and to ensure SOP compliance (in their operations),” she said.
She was responding to Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Wong Soon Koh’s recent allegation that the state and federal governments had not paid enough attention to early childhood education.
Fatimah said Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg had announced RM37 million under the 2022 state budget for early childhood and care institutions, one-stop early intervention centre Sarawak and the operation of 94 kindergartens and childcare centres under Sedidik Sdn Bhd, a state-owned company.
She said this year alone, her ministry had approved 2,755 out of 2,946 applications under the GTK, and allowed grants for carrying out minor repairs and buying furniture for early childhood education institutions.
“Under our state-owned (subsidiary) SeDidik, we focus on equity to ensure that children in rural areas especially are not left behind in preschool education. This is to help complement the federal government’s initiatives through Kemas, MoE preschools and unity kindergartens,” she said.
Besides organising the Sarawak Preschool Kids Got Talent event annually to focus on young children’s talents to ensure they enjoy a holistic development, Fatimah said her ministry had also organised various courses and workshops to enhance the knowledge and skills of their teachers and caregivers.
She said her ministry also recognised the contributions of preschool teachers in early childhood care and education (ECCE) by publishing a book recently entitled “Women in ECCE: Sowing The Seeds For The Future”.
“With this brief sharing on ECCE in Sarawak, it is my hope that those who are not in the know due to reason best known to them have gained useful insights. Rest assured that the state government is giving its best to ensure that all Sarawak preschool children have access to early childhood care,” she added.