AS preschool education is not compulsory in the country, not all parents send their children to kindergarten.
The Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, released in September 2012, showed that only 77% of students were enrolled in some form of preschool education, either public or private.
But things are about to change. The same report targets universal preschool enrolment through the Education National Key Results Area under the Government Transformation Programme.
In July this year, Malaysia played host to the Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Forum on Early Childhood Care and Education.
During the meet, participating nations tabled an agenda under the Putrajaya Declaration to push for integrated and inclusive legislation, policies and programmes which will provide at least one year of free and compulsory quality pre-primary education, by 2030. Special attention will be paid to disadvantaged children.
Change will come as early as next year, when the revised national curriculum (Kurikulum Standard Prasekolah Kebangsaan, KSPK) kicks in. The KSPK is reviewed every seven years to ensure teaching modules are up to date and changes are made to improve the education system.
Also, starting 2017, every new preschool teacher will need to have at least a diploma in early education. By 2020, all teachers working in a kindergarten must have this qualification.
“Teachers need to learn about child development, mental health, code of ethics and how to observe and guide a child.
“They have to create a healthy and safe environment that stimulates and inspires learning.
“It’s difficult to learn this on the job,” said Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Council founding president Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng.
The training colleges and universities teach teachers how to respond to, and care for a child.
Courses under the diploma programme will comply with standards set by the Malaysian Qualification Agency, she added.
With these efforts, the Education Ministry hopes to see every child attend preschool and get a head start in learning.
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