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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Oct 2: Early care and childhood education (ECCE) teachers need to gear themselves up to help students catch up with learning lost due to Covid-19 pandemic under new norms as Sarawak prepares to transition into an endemic stage to live with the virus.
Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah emphaised that young learners have experienced interrupted education for the longest.
“As such, ECCE teachers play a pivotal role in ensuring these children can catch up on their learning and character development so that they are better prepared to enter formal schooling,” she addressed the inaugural Sarawak Preschool International Convention held via Zoom webinar today.
Unlike pre-pandemic times where classes can be conducted physically, she observed that the shift of education online has posed a great challenge for character building of young children which is critical during their formative years.
“Character or personality of an individual is shaped by moral and religious values. It is a dominant factor which will determine how one uses knowledge and skills for personal development or for the good of the community and mankind at large.
“Thus it is important for parents and teachers to inculcate the right values in children during their formative years to give them a head start in life,” she explained.
The Ministry, she pointed out, aims to have qualified, educated and skillful teachers and caregivers who have the right attitude and aptitude to ensure quality early childhood care and education for children in Sarawak.
As such, Fatimah said that conventions such as this will help equip teachers with the right approach, strategies, skills and knowledge to teach and nurture children effectively despite the new norms.
In addition, she highlighted that preschool operators in Sarawak can use the annual special grant of RM5,000 to purchase face masks, soaps, hand sanitisers, engage disinfection and sanitisation services and for other minor works to provide a safe and health environment for young learners and educators during this Covid-19 period.
Since 2019, she said that the Sarawak government has provided a total of RM16 million in annual special grants to support registered preschool operators throughout the State.
“Moreover, in preparation for Covid-19 recovery stage, we have to ensure that all our teachers and staff in early childhood institutions are vaccinated.
“Through collaboration with the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), 98.08 per cent or 9,938 of a total 10,133 teachers and staff have been vaccinated so far,” she added.
Preschools in Sarawak, she shared, have been given approval to operate since June 26 in compliance with stringent standard operating procedures (SOP) issued by the Ministry.
“There are 381 preschools in operations involving 2,789 educators and caregivers with a total of 16,831 children,” she said.
Themed ‘Character Building In The New Norm’, the three-day convention taking place Oct 1 to 3, aims to enhance educators’ knowledge and understanding of human character formation in children; to reskill early childhood educators in cultivating and nurturing children’s spiritual, cognitive, social, physical and emotional developments; and to identify challenges in shaping human character, talents, interests and potentials of children.— DayakDaily