Archive for the ‘Early Childhood Education’ Category

Early childhood education system review coming up for Malaysian schools

Saturday, May 13th, 2017
(File pix) Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the ministry will hold discussions with various stakeholders including early childhood experts to improve and evaluate the current system, which was last reviewed in 2015. (by pix FARIZ ISWADI ISMAIl)

PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry will review the early childhood education system in the country to increase and improve the quality of pre-school students.

Its minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the ministry will hold discussions with various stakeholders including early childhood experts to improve and evaluate the current system, which was last reviewed in 2015.

“The review is important to ensure that students who enter Primary One are of high quality and are able to read. Therefore we have to make sure the teachers educating these students must have knowledge in early childhood education,” he told reporters after visiting the SMK Presint 8 (1) pre-school, here today.

Mahdzir said the ministry would also look into the possibility of increasing the number of pre-school students and classes offered in schools, which are currently limited to students whose parents have a monthly household income of less than RM5,000.

The review was part of the education transformation under the National Education Blueprint Second Wave from year 2016 to 2020.

The ministry had been conducting a series of surprise visits to schools which offer pre-school education in both rural and urban areas.

Mahdzir said the visit was to check on teachers’ teaching and learning schedules and the facilities offered in every school.


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Early childhood education vital to ensure success

Friday, March 10th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Early childhood education is very crucial to ensure the success of our children in future. A child best learning process takes place when they are 5 to 8 years old, so in that sense we need to invest in the people who teach our children, said Asia e University (AeU) President Prof Dato’ Dr Ansary Ahmed.

To prove his point, he said research carried out by Stanford University showed that a person who went for early childhood training performed better in their later life than those who did not.

“So investment in early childhood education is very important and to make sure our children get the best training, we also need to provide proper training to the people who teach them,” said Dr Ansary.

And the training was made possible when AeU in collaboration with Sabah Institute of Arts (SIA) offered the graduate diploma in early childhood education (GDECE) programme to upscale the practising preschool and kindergarten teachers as well as heads and administrators in Sabah who do not have a qualification in early childhood education since last year.

And yesterday, the programme was extended to Tadika Hwa Shiong and Tadika Bersatu when they both signed a corporate partnership with AeU at SIA in KK Times Square here.

During the signing, Tadika Hwa Shiong was represented by Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry president, Datuk Michael Lui and Tadika Bersatu by Datin Kong Ho Yii whilst AeU by Dr Ansary.

Under the agreement, there will be eight and 10 preschool teachers from Tadika Bersatu and Tadika Hwa Shiong respectively will enroll for the two and a half year GDECE programme.


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PPTS aims to produce competent, efficient Sabahan nursery entrepreneurs, caregivers

Monday, February 27th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Persatuan Perkhidmatan Taska Sabah (PPTS) aims to produce competent and efficient Sabahan nursery entrepreneurs and caregivers by providing Infant and Child CPR and Airway Management course, held only in Sabah.

The course has been held annually for the past two years, but this year the association is introducing a new course designated for toddlers and not just babies.

“The programme is practical. It teaches the entrepreneurs and the caregivers on how to recognise the symptoms of respiratory problems on babies and toddlers, how to perform a CPR accurately on children and infant, how to handle accidents that happen in a nursery, and many more” said the Vice President of PPTS Zubaidah A. Sidek.

“It is a programme where all of the nursery entrepreneurs and caregivers are obliged to attend before serving in the industry,” she added.

The training, which has also been done in Tawau, Sandakan, and Keningau, only allows an enrolment of 30 participants per programme.

The participants will have to attend the programme every two years in order to renew the certificate as new module may be implemented or upgraded.

“This programme is held to create awareness so that there will be no negligence in the nurseries of Sabah,” said Hajah Dayang Rugayah Awang Besar, the chief assistant director of the Department of General Services.

“Last two years, we only provided CPR and Airway Management Course on babies. But this year we have developed a module for both babies and toddlers.

“We have a trained nurse who is certified to lead the program. After the 2-day programme, the participants will be sitting for their examination,” she said.

Anamaria Anthony, 29, is one of the participants who expressed her gratitude for being given the opportunity to attend the programme.

“The children are the future leaders. We will, in any cost, avoid anything that may harm them to happen,” said Anamaria.

”The responsibility on handling a nursery is big. Anything that happens in the nursery will be our responsibility. So when something bad happens, we are able to handle it as we have had the knowledge.”


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Singing to babies

Sunday, February 26th, 2017
Research looked into the role that infant-directed singing plays in creating the intricate bond between mother and child. — AFP

Research looked into the role that infant-directed singing plays in creating the intricate bond between mother and child. — AFP

New research says this is important to create bonds and stimulate children.

MOTHERS singing to babies is an age-old practice found across all cultures and traditions.

Now a United States research finds it is actually an important way to create bonds and stimulate children. Shannon de l’Etoile, professor of music therapy and associate dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, initially set to look at how infants behave in response to their mothers’ singing, also called infant-directed singing, compared to other mother-baby interactions such as reading books and playing with toys.In addition the research looked into the role that infant-directed singing plays in creating the intricate bond between mother and child.

For her initial study, de l’Etoile filmed 70 infants responding to six different interactions – mother sings an assigned song, “stranger” sings an assigned song, mother sings song of choice, mother reads book, mother plays with toy, and the mother and infant listen to recorded music.The babies showed high cognitive scores during infant-directed singing, suggesting that song is just as effective as reading books or playing with toys for engaging and maintaining babies’ attention, and far more effective than listening to recorded music.

The promising results led de l’Etoile to carry out a second study that focused on the mother’s role during infant-directed singing by measuring the make-up of the song and the mother’s voice.

De l’Etoile then looked at the acoustic range in the singing voices of mothers with post-partum depression. The results showed that although the children were still engaged, the tempo of the singing did not change and was more robotic.

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Childcare centre fees set to go up

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

SUNGAI BULOH: The fees for childcare centres across the country are expected to increase by at least 10% next year, says the Association of Childcare Centres Selangor.

This was due to the revised minimum wage, said association president Mahanom Basri.

“The increase depends on the management of the centre. If the rent, salaries and other expenditures have gone up, it will increase by between 5% and 10%.

“It won’t be a lot, but there will definitely be an increase,” she said here yesterday.

For example, Mahanom said a 10% increase from the RM300 fee per child would result in a new fee of RM330.

Besides the minimum wage, she said childcare centre operators also had to install CCTVs for extra security.

“Quality facilities require money so I hope parents are ready to pay for them,” she added.

The Government introduced the minimum wage policy in 2013.

On July 1, the monthly minimum wage was increased from RM900 to RM1,000 for peninsular Malaysia and from RM800 to RM920 for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

Mahanom, together with more than 300 childcare centre operators, attended a dialogue session with Deputy Women, Family and Community Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun yesterday.

One of the issues raised during the two-hour closed-door dialogue was the licensing fees charged by local councils.

“We have proposed to the local councils that they could treat childcare centres as community service instead of commercial business.

“By doing so, they can reduce the licensing fees,” Chew said.

She said the ministry was also looking into easing some regulations.

“We will be looking at the ratio; such as how many children should be cared by one minder without compromising on safety.


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80% preschool teachers in Sabah without diploma

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Private Preschool Consultative Council (MPPSS) was recently formed to advocate and address pressing issues regarding Early Childhood Education and quality in Sabah.

The council is made up of representatives from Persatuan Tadika Sabah, Chinese Chamber of Commerse Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Chinese Kindergarten Boards of Association, Persatuan Tadika Islam Sabah, Early Childhood Committee of the Education Commission of Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Tadika-tadika Gereja under Sabah Council of Churches Sabah. It will in future also include representatives from the 23 districts in Sabah. On November 25, five committee members of MPPSS headed by its chairlady, Jenifer Anjek together with head of Private Education Unit, Haji Abdul Wahab Ampuan Hamzah, made a courtesy call on Sabah education director Datuk Hjh Maimunah Hj Suhaibul to discuss about preschool teacher qualifications for Sabah teachers.

The key issues discussed were the possibility for teachers over 45 years old to be allowed to continue renewing their permits even without a diploma qualification, due to the fact that they are not eligible to take PTPTN loans, and most of these teachers have at least 20 years of teaching experience and skills.

It was also discussed that Sabah be given an extension of time till 2025 due to various reasons that include, a lack of MQA certified institutions offering diploma courses in Sabah, financial difficulties faced by teachers to pay for their education when their monthly salaries at the minimum rates, and the lack of access to higher education for those who are in rural areas of Sabah.

In April 2016, the Ministry of Education approved the benchmarking of preschool teacher qualification to that of a Diploma in Early Childhood Education by 2020.

The aim of this move was to raise the quality of preschool education and teacher professionalism in Malaysia.

To date at least 80% of preschool teachers in the private kindergartens in Sabah do not meet this requirement.

MPPSS said this is a worrying issue as many private kindergartens may have to close down due to insufficient qualified staff  come year 2020.  Higher staff salary scale due to higher qualification compounded by the increasing costs of goods and materials and kindergartens that are smaller in scale both in rural and urban areas will be a challenge.

“Kindergartens in rural areas will face a bigger challenge especially with the collection of school fees at a very minimum rate or even free!  We could be facing with a decrease in the provision of early childhood education for children in Sabah more so in rural areas,” it said.

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‘Home-based nurseries may help working mothers’

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry is looking into the possibility of training babysitters for home-based nurseries to solve problems faced by working mothers.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya suggested that housewives or single mothers could earn extra income by taking a maximum of three children per household, including their own children.

“I believe a mother can take care of three children at a time. If a mother already has one child of her own, she can look after two more,” he said.

“If you work at a factory, you would not be able to pay RM700 or RM800 to a babysitter to look after your child.

“A RM300 fee for a child is more feasible,” he said at a press conference in the University Malaya Medical Centre here yesterday.

He said the Health Ministry had been in talks with the single mothers associations, which welcomed the idea.

“Our ministry can help with training with regards to taking care of and feeding the baby.’’

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Improving preschool standards

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

AS preschool education is not compulsory in the country, not all parents send their children to kindergarten.

The Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, released in September 2012, showed that only 77% of students were enrolled in some form of preschool education, either public or private.

But things are about to change. The same report targets universal preschool enrolment through the Education National Key Results Area under the Government Transformation Programme.

In July this year, Malaysia played host to the Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Forum on Early Childhood Care and Education.

During the meet, participating nations tabled an agenda under the Putrajaya Declaration to push for integrated and inclusive legislation, policies and programmes which will provide at least one year of free and compulsory quality pre-primary education, by 2030. Special attention will be paid to disadvantaged children.

Change will come as early as next year, when the revised national curriculum (Kurikulum Standard Prasekolah Kebangsaan, KSPK) kicks in. The KSPK is reviewed every seven years to ensure teaching modules are up to date and changes are made to improve the education system.

Also, starting 2017, every new preschool teacher will need to have at least a diploma in early education. By 2020, all teachers working in a kindergarten must have this qualification.

“Teachers need to learn about child development, mental health, code of ethics and how to observe and guide a child.

“They have to create a healthy and safe environment that stimulates and inspires learning.

“It’s difficult to learn this on the job,” said Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Council founding president Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng.

The training colleges and universities teach teachers how to respond to, and care for a child.

Courses under the diploma programme will comply with standards set by the Malaysian Qualification Agency, she added.

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Preschools told to hire teachers with diploma from next year.

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

(File pix) All preschool education implementing agencies must start hiring kindergarten teachers with at least diploma qualification from next year. Pix by Balqis Jazimah Zahari

KUALA LUMPUR: All preschool education implementing agencies must start hiring kindergarten teachers with at least diploma qualification from next year.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the requirement for such an academic qualification would be fully enforced by 2020.

“Preschool teachers serving under government agencies or the private sector can enrol into any public or private university that offers the diploma in early childhood education (DECE) using a special requirement, namely the Accreditation of Prior Experiental Learning.

“However, this is subject to approval from that particular higher education institution,” he said in a statement, here, today.

Mahdzir said all the implementing agencies must also look into the welfare of the existing preschool teachers who did not have the qualification to pursue the DECE.

“Preschool education for children aged between four and six is subject to the Education Act 1996 (Act 550) and comes under the responsibility of the Education Ministry”.


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Early Education Determines Child’s EQ

Friday, August 26th, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) — It is not easy to go against the current and tell parents to not focus on academic learning while their children are young, but Dr Putri Afzan Maria Zulkifli had strong faith in what she was doing.

Many Malaysian parents subscribe to the conventional education model, although numerous studies and proven education modules long practiced overseas have shown that child-led learning had longer lasting and more positive outcomes on children’s cognitive development.

Putri Afzan, who is the founder and managing director of child enrichment centre KinderKaizen, believed strongly in providing early education that allows children to learn in the most natural and enjoyable way – through playing.

“There is no need to force children to quickly learn to read or excel academically. The first six years of life is when a child’s emotions are developing, and the best way to nurture it is through play,” said Putri Afzan.

Many were initially cynical about her prospects in the field of early education, even claiming that there was no market for it.

The early childhood education expert took it all in stride and proved to the naysayers otherwise when KinderKaizen became so successful that it now has 22 branches in nine states.


Putri Afzan went to Britain with her family to do Masters in Education and Childhood Studies at the Leeds Metropolitan Development and PhD in Cognitive Science at the Sussex University in Brighton.

Seven years in Britain had given her the chance to observe the positive effects of the British play-based education on her own children.

On her return, Putri Afzan became a lecturer at several institutions of higher learning such as UPSI and OUM.

It was not long before she and her husband, Mohd Faizul Iqmal Mohd Kamil, decided to open the first KinderKaizen centre.

She soon left her career and post as the Deputy Dean at the Faculty of Early Childhood Studies of UNITAR International University to focus fully on helping parents and children at her centre.

With her husband as the centre’s CEO, Putri Afzan operated the centre based on Britain’s learning module.

There was no syllabus to adhere to in class. Instead, children are free to explore and discover based on their interests, inclinations and social and emotional development.

“We only assist them when they ask for help. Otherwise, KinderKaizen kids are free to become as creative as their imagination and abilities will allow them to be. Trained teachers will always be nearby to supervise them during every activity,” said Putri Afzan.

The British learning module employed at the centre has already been presented to the Education Ministry and was approved.

There are no desks, chairs or books as typically found at regular kindergartens at the centre.

The children are allowed to run around and play without realising that actual learning was taking place from the activities held.

“Happy children develop high EQ (emotional quotient) and this stimulates their IQ as well,” said Putri Afzan, a mother of five.

“The concept used in KinderKaizen is children’s mind enrichment with a focus on holistic learning and cognitive balance,” she said.


Parents who have grown up within a conventional learning environment would understandably become nervous at the thought of a learning centre that focuses on learning without books.

Many would ask: “When would my child learn how to read? Would they ever be ready for primary school?”

Putri Afzan said that the period from birth to six years old was when children’s EQ experience the most development. Children who receive proper stimulation will have a stable EQ, and this in turn would lead to good IQ development.

“If a child’s EQ is stable by the time he is seven years old, he would be easily receptive learning inputs at school,” said Putri Afzan.

Despite passing over workbooks, children at KinderKaizen are able to learn the proper way of holding pens and pencils by developing their cognitive skills through play.

She cited a unique case at KinderKaizen Wangsa Maju where a child was totally incapable of holding a pencil on the first day of enrolment. However, within two months, the child was able to write on the blackboard as well as draw and write using both left and right hands.

The centre did not force the child to write. Instead, the skill came to him naturally through the process of playing and learning with his peers.

by Nurul Halawati Mohamad Azhari.

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