‘Various steps to boost early childhood devt’

Fatimah (centre) in a photo with Kadim (second right) and Chan (left) while holding up the MoU which both parties signed earlier.

KUCHING: Early childhood development in Sarawak will continue to be enhanced through various programmes planned and realised under the Sarawak Early Childhood Development Council (MPAKS).

Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah pointed out that among the latest initiatives is the 19th Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association (Pecera) 2018 International Conference.

According to her, the first Pecera conference in Malaysia will be held in Kuching on July 6 – 8 at the Hilton Hotel.

“The conference is very timely with the theme ‘Start Right, Begin the Journey Right’. It is indeed very relevant to early childhood education in Sarawak,” she said.

“This would be an avenue for our pre-school educators to interact as well as exchange ideas and experience with international counterparts,” she added.

Fatimah highlighted this when witnessing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing between University Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and Help University, which marked the joint collaboration in organising the Pecera 2018, at a leading hotel here yesterday.

Unimas was represented by its Vice-Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi and Help University by its Vice Chancellor and President Datuk Prof Dr Paul Chan.

Elaborating on, Fatimah expressed hope that this collaboration would lead to Unimas offering Early Childhood Education degree programme in the very near future.

“This will provide our children to pursue this course and our existing pre-school educators can upskill themselves at a much cheaper tuition fee,” she emphasised.

Some 300 people comprising 100 from Sarawak, 100 from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and 100 foreign delegates would be attending the conference.

The conference will feature keynote addresses, paper presentations, research workshops, cultural workshops, posters and exhibitions booths.

“The three-day conference is just a week before our Rainforest World Music Festival and I hope this will bring more foreign visitors to Sarawak,” she enthused.

In addition, Fatimah shared that one of the initiatives implemented last year was to train about 3,000 early childhood educators during the weekend in English Fun Learning (EFL) covering all districts throughout Sarawak.

“To expand our reach, facilitators have gone to all districts including in rural and remote areas of Belaga, Baram and others so that educators can be exposed to EFL regardless of their geographical location. This programme will continue this year to evaluate its effectiveness,” she said.

MPAKS, she continued, has published four books namely Standard Manual for Quality Pre-School and Kindergarten Education in Sarawak, Strategic Plan for the Early Childhood Education and Guidance 2016-2020, English Fun Learning Module and Home Tutor Guide Book.

“This year, the Home Tutor Guide Book will be translated into Mandarin and Iban languages. This is to give access to quality tutoring at home to children below four years of age,” she added.

Pre-school education convention, she said, was also being held annually, which among others were to enhance knowledge and understanding of educators about information technology (IT) and communication to advance early childhood education.

“It also aimed at enhancing the skills of educators in IT and communication to improve teaching, caring and guiding techniques as well as instil positive attitudes among educators to deliver impact to pre-schools,” she said.

Meanwhile, Pecera is dedicated to disseminating and supporting research in early childhood education within the Pacific area.

It aims to bring together researchers and practitioners in the field of early childhood education, and to discuss and share research, practices and development in the field of early childhood education.

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