State govt approves use of special grant to ease MCO impact on early childcare operators

Ng Lee Boon from Taska Cahaya Horizon (right) receives GTK funds from Fatimah.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, June 4: The state government has approved the use of its special annual grant (GTK) for registered nurseries and kindergartens as Sarawak Early Children Education Institutions (IPAKKs) to lighten the impact of the MCO and CMCO.

Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the GTK for IPAKKs will be used to assist in financing and salaries of teachers and staff of especially for private IPAKKs.

All IPAKKs have been ordered to close since the Covid-19 Movement Control Order (MCO) started on March 18, and also during the Conditional MCO (CMCO) which came into effect afterwards.

“All children must be at home with their parents. This has also raised concerns among parents about the payment of their children’s nurseries, play school and kindergarten fees during the MCO and CMCO period and also the safety of their children once it is lifted.

“Private nursery, playschool and kindergarten operators faced difficulties in paying rent and salaries of teachers, caregivers and other staff members since most of them have no income in April and May.

“Therefore, this special fund can assist them in purchasing goods and cleaning, sanitation and other preparation requirements in compliance with the Covid-19 post-operating Standard Operating Procedure (SOP),” Fatimah said when met at the handover of grants to two applicants, Tadika Sri Keria and Taska Cahaya Horizons today.

Fatimah (right) in conversation with Ain Nureen Mohd Morshidi from Tadika Sri Keria (left) and Ng Lee Boon from Taska Cahaya Horizon.

Since 2019, the Sarawak government has approved an allocation of RM16 million for GTK.

A sum of RM5,000 is awarded to each IPAKK registered in Sarawak for four purposes, namely balanced nutrition, fun learning, development of professionalism of educators or caregivers, and parental means.

“The ministry has been conducting surveys to obtain feedback on issues faced by the IPAKKs during MCO and CMCO. As a result of the survey, we found that 92 per cent of parent-facing institutions do not want to pay fees as children were not sent to these places

“Today, about 81 per cent of these institutions are having trouble in paying staff salaries because they have no other source of income,” Fatimah explained.

To date, Sarawak has 3,113 government and 577 private IPAKKs registered.

Of the 3,113 IPAKK registered in Sarawak, Fatimah revealed that 2,853 have applied for GTK and 2,791 applications have been approved. — DayakDaily