Tuesday October 16, 2012
Shortage of kindies
By VANES DEVINDRAN
KUCHING: Three rural districts registered the highest percentages of Primary One pupils who had never attended preschool in Sarawak.
According to a survey by the Welfare, Women and Family Development Ministry, the three are Sebauh with 10.04%, Tatau with 7.99% and Baram with 7.3%.
Its minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said this was because the children in these districts did not have access to preschools.
However, one needed to take into account the overall number of Primary One pupils from which the percentages were derived, she said.
“These schools may have fewer pupils. In Kuching, the percentage of Primary One pupils who did not attend preschool is 2.9% but this translate to 155 out of 5,347 pupils,” she said while launching Smart Reader Worldwide Sdn Bhd’s “Kids One Child One Hope” charity concert here on Sunday night.
She went on to give statistics for districts near here namely Bau with 0.5% (five out of 921 pupils), Padawan with 1.28% (78 out of 3,933 pupils) and Lundu with 1.15% (seven out of 610 pupils).
Nevertheless Fatimah was happy to note that overall in Sarawak, the number of Primary One pupils who had attended preschool had risen.
This year, she said, 97% of Primary One pupils had attended preschool compared to only 95.1% last year and 94.53% in 2010.
“Preschool and early childhood education improves cognitive development leading to stronger learning outcomes throughout a child’s life.
“Preschool ensures an equal head start for all children irrespective of socio-economic background,” she said.
As such, she said, the Government encouraged the setting up of more preschools or get the private sector to build them.
She commended Smart Reader’s efforts in providing early education for Sarawakians and also its initiative to help underprivileged preschoolers an opportunity to acquire quality preschool education through scholarships raised through charity concerts.
Co-organised with the Association of Professional Early Childhood Provider (APECP) and Aim Smart Academics Sdn Bhd, the national charity concert themed “Let’s Celebrate Life” is being held to raise funds in order to convert the National One Child One Hope Education Scholarship Programme to a foundation.
A series of concerts are being held in order to enable many more underprivileged children in the country to experience quality early childhood education.
On Sunday, some 300 students from nine Smart Reader Kids centres here took part in the concert.
Fatimah later launched a CD and a book of quotes entitled Let’s Celebrate Life. It contained a collection of soothing songs, uplifting music and ispirational lyrics, all of which were written by Smart Reader Worldwide group executive director Honorary Professor Dr KH Wang.
Earlier, Wang said quality preschool was expensive but money should not be an obstacle for anyone desiring good preschool education.
“Just because a child is less fortunate does not mean he or she should be deprived of quality preschool. So while most corporate institutions through corporate social responsibility initiatives, give out scholarships to tertiary students, Smart Reader initiated giving scholarships,” she said.
She said as a leading early childhood education provider, it was Smart Reader’s wish that all children regardless of race, colour, creed or religion enjoy the same privileges and benefits.