A head start for preschoolers

THE RM530 million allocation for preshool programmes as well as setting up 93 preschools in national-type primary schools in the 2014 Budget shows that the government recognises the importance of early education.

This would mean there will be about eight preschools in national-type schools set up in every state in the country.

It would be great to see preschools in national-type schools established in rural areas as this would ensure the disadvantaged get the necessary headstart in education.

Only 72 per cent of children are receiving pre-school education now. Therefore, the allocation would go a long way in ensuring that a 98 per cent enrolment is achieved by 2020.

Quality early learning and childcare can make a difference in a child’s future success in school and later life, and help them fulfil their future potential.

Preschool programmes will ensure that children, especially in rural areas and low-income families, achieve their full potential despite their background or circumstance.

We all know for a fact that most children in rural areas do not attend preschool. As a result, they are often left behind compared with their peers in big towns. Some pupils in rural areas do not even know the alphabet when they start primary school.

Under the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, kindergartens known as Tadika Kemas are set up in rural areas and small towns. Tadika Kemas was established to give children aged 4-6 years old the opportunity to pick up basic skills and experiences to facilitate them when they reach primary school.

Even though there are Tadika Kemas in these areas, their programmes are not as advanced as those of preschool programmes in urban towns.

Private kindergartens, besides Tadika Kemas, are also available in small towns and rural areas but sometimes, most only function as nurseries.

Preschool kindergartens in big towns, on the other hand, offer state-of-the-art education programmes for preschoolers which are advanced.

There are even some preschools kindergartens that offer third languages, computer lessons, swimming classes and other extra-curricular activities. Of course, these high-end kindergartens only cater for the wealthy as the fees are comparable to the tuition fees of public universities.

by Wan Norliza Wan Mustapha

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