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By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Nov 10: Sarawak will develop and set up its own preschool programmes since preschool education is not under the jurisdiction or curriculum of the federal government.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state government would use its own initiatives to set up and develop its own preschool programmes to improve the current public preschools and kindergarten being run by the federal’s Community Development Department (Kemas).
“We (Sarawak) have played our part in institutions of higher learning after setting up Unimas, Swinburne University Kuching, Curtin University Miri and Sibu University of Technology. Now, I am looking into the basic foundation of education, and that is preschool.
“Rural people depend on Kemas kindergarten for their preschoolers. Unfortunately, from what I see, Kemas is not so ‘kemas’ (manageable),” he said at Yayasan Sarawak Special Chief Minister’s Award Night at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Ballroom here on Friday.
Abang Johari also observed that children at private, urban preschools and kindergartens had very good command in languages they are learning as well as good understanding of subjects they are studying.
He said if this carried on, the gap between the urban and the rural or the rich and the poor would widen.
“Therefore, I want to make a change to our preschool education because it is not bounded by the national curriculum. Like what we have done for our higher learning institutions, we will get involved in preschool education from Sarawak itself,” he said.
Abang Johari told those present that he had asked Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah to list down the funds needed for such an effort, adding that if it was between RM20 million and RM30 million, it could immediately be allocated.
“Because now we will have sales tax (for petroleum-based products), and we want to give it back to the people of Sarawak. Thank god, I manage to find a way for us to get the money.
“We don’t have to worry about oil royalty, etc, for now, which is still ‘ding dong’ in the federal. We have the law with us, and we just implement it. That is our right in the constitution,” said Abang Johari.
He also assured that the 5 per cent sales tax for petroleum-based products to be imposed starting next year would not affect the people directly as it would only be imposed on exports or anything going outside of Sarawak.
“If, for example, for fertilizers to be used by Sarawakians within Sarawak, that would be exempted. It is ours, and we don’t want to burden Sarawakians. In fact, we want to give back the oil and gas money to Sarawakians,” he assured. — DayakDaily