THE first few years of a child’s life are vital to his development, said Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Council founding president Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng.
“As such, a holistic preschool education is needed to help children develop to their full potential,” she added.
Dr Chiam said that the ECCE Council will hold its National Preschool Quality Standard Forum.
The forum will be held throughout the country. It kicks off on March 26.
“The purpose of the forum is to improve the level and quality of preschool education in the country, and to educate kindergarten owners on the components of the National Pre-School Quality Standard (SKPK),” she added.
The Education Ministry launched the SKPK in May 2013, under the Government Transformation Programme (GTP).
SKPK serves as a self-assessment tool designed to measure the quality of preschools in Malaysia.
It lists various criteria that kindergarten operators have to tick off in forms posted online, such as their education policies, curriculum and facilities available.
The March forum will cover five domains — the quality of preschool management; teachers; implementation of national preschool curriculum standard; interaction between the preschool and parents; and safety, health and nutrition.
“Under SKPK, we’ve identified what is needed is to promote physical, emotional and cognitive development in a child.
“But the terms we use can lead to misunderstanding, so the forum is to help private kindergartens understand the terminologies involved and what it is that we are looking for.
“When they go online to fill up the form, they will understand what to do and will do it correctly,” said Dr Chiam.
She said this is to help them be comfortable and not fearful of the SKPK system.
“They shouldn’t view this as punitive [action], but a way to raise their quality as an education provider,” she said.
ECCE Council organising chairperson Patricia Teh said the forum will be held at different locations throughout the country.
It is targeted at private kindergarten operators, although parents are welcome to attend, to learn more about and understand the SKPK system.
This forum is in line with the second phase of the Education Ministry’s Malaysia Education Blueprint, which is from 2016 to 2020.
Under this plan, all kindergarten teachers must have a diploma in early childhood education by 2020.
The Education Ministry’s principal assistant director of its private education division, Marzita Omar, said: “This year, our target is to increase the enrolment of private kindergartens by 52%, which in numbers is an additional 473,397 pupils.”
Marzita advised unregistered kindergartens to attain the proper licences and stressed that operators who fail to do so could face a fine of RM30,000, or be jailed for not more than two years, or both.
ECCE Council president Dr Azhar Md Adnan said: “This is a vital, not to mention compulsory step by private kindergartens as it allows the government to monitor and regulate the education system in this country.”
“ From there, we can identify the positive and negative [aspects] and improve,” he added.
For more information or to participate in the forum, visit eccecouncil.org.