SIBU: The Sarawak government has agreed to give a RM5,000 annual grant to every registered nurseries and kindergartens starting next year in its effort to improve the quality of early childhood education.
Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah when announcing this said that the grant is given irrespective of whether the nurseries or kindergartens are government or private ones, as long as they are registered.
She pointed out that private nurseries must be registered with the Welfare Department while private kindergartens with Ministry of Education. Fatimah said this when officiating at the presentation of ‘Reading Seeds’ kits at the civic centre here yesterday.
“The RM5,000-allocation for nurseries and kindergartens is to help them prepare healthy or balanced diet for pre-schoolers. This is very important for the proper growth of our children.
“I have noticed that there are nurseries and kindergartens where the food provided are sometimes not (of) balanced diet. At this age, the children are growing – we must give them healthy diet,” she stressed.
Fatimah, however said there is flexibility where if some nurseries or kindergartens feel that they could manage in preparing healthy diet, they could utilise the annual grant to purchase teaching and learning tools such as laptop and books among others. She specified that the items must be for teaching and learning purposes only.
She hoped that through such initiative, more nurseries and kindergartens would be registered in order to be eligible to enjoy the benefit of the grant.
On the processes involved before the grant can be approved, she said that applicants would need to submit a report to her ministry.
“The first stage is for them to submit (report) to us (Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development) that they are registered. We need to have their (registration) number to double check with our registration record. From there, the ministry would vet the application form to determine the purpose for the grant request,” she said and emphasising that monitoring is most important to ensure that the purpose adheres to what the grant is intended for in the first place.
The Dalat assemblywoman also touched on the RM1,000 given to every Sarawakian baby born next year starting Jan 1, 2019. She, however, explained that the money can only be withdrawn when the child attains the age of 18 and for tertiary education purposes.
Fatimah noted the Sarawak government has set aside RM40 million for such purpose based on the statistics that there are about 40,000 newborns in Sarawak each year. When responding to a question, she explained a child is not eligible for the incentive if there is no birth certificate.
“When the (National) Registration Department issues a birth certificate denoted with a ‘K’, the child is eligible to receive the RM1,000 benefit.”
In her speech earlier, Fatimah said ‘Reading Seeds’ is a continuation of the ‘Born to Read Programme’ which has been implemented by Pustaka Negeri Sarawak since 2004.
Also present at the function were Sarawak Library deputy chief executive officer (services) Arpah Adenan, Sibu Hospital director Dr Ngian Hie Ung and Sibu District Office and Resident Office representative Zulkarnain Ismail.