GEORGE TOWN: The first five years of a child’s life often called the formative years, are absolutely critical for the development, performance and success of the child throughout his life, said Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
The Prime Minister’s wife said the importance of early childhood development had been acknowledged by economists, behavior scientists, educators, neuroscientists and biologists.
“The formative period was said to be the best window of opportunity that we must seize or we will forever lose the vast human potential that exists in these children,” she said in her speech at the opening of the International Conference on Early Childhood and Special Education (ICECSE), here yesterday.
She said recent neuroscience research shows that development of the brain over the first five years is more rapid, intensive and vulnerable to external influences or the environment.
“With the proper environmental stimulation, the child’s cognitive development can be developed early. For example, 80 per cent of the child’s intelligence at age 18 has been developed by the age of six,” she said.
Rosmah said from economic perspective, early childhood education and development was the foundation of quality human capital.
“Early childhood education is also said to have a snowballing effect in increasing the preparedness of a child to study,” she said.
Thus, Rosmah said, to promote early childhood education, Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) was initiated under the banner of Permata Negara.
She said the Permata Pintar, Permata Seni and Permata Insan were launched to complement the ECEC programme.
“I am pleased to announce that the Permata Pintar children have been doing the country proud,” she said.
Rosmah said they won gold and bronze medals at the third Apec Future Scientist Conference in Taipeh this year, one was selected to enter the Genius Olympiad competition in New York and another student had received a scholorship to join a course on theory of numbers at Johns Hopkins University next week.
“Just yesterday we were informed that the Permata Programme is shotlisted for best global education which will be announced at a summit to be held in New Delhi,” she said.
She said within a span of four years, 600 Permata centres had been established throughout the country involving more than 20,000 children. — Bernama