KUCHING, June 4 — The Sarawak government has allowed early childhood education institutions to use state funding to help cover staff salaries and purchase sanitation supplies.
The Sarawak state government back in 2019 approved a RM16 million Special Annual Grant (GTK) allocation, in which RM5,000 GTK is awarded to every early childhood education centre (IPAKK) registered in the state of Sarawak for the following four purposes: balanced nutrition, fun learning, professional development of educator or caregiver, and for parental means.
In a press statement today, Sarawak Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family, and Childhood Development Minister Fatimah Abdullah announced approval on relaxing the use of GTK for two additional purposes:
- Assist in the funding and salaries of teachers and staff of IPAKK, especially private IPAKK; and
- Assist in the purchase of cleaning and sanitary supplies and supplies for compliance with post-Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
The state ministry’s survey carried out on issues faced by IPAKK during the Movement Control Order (MCO) found that 92.2 per cent of parent refuse to pay fees as their children were not sent to kindergarten or child care centres that were closed since March 18.
However, the survey also found that 80.9 per cent of kindergarten and child care centres face troubles paying staff salaries as they have no other source of income other than the fees collected from parents.
Most kindergarten and child care centre operators, said Fatimah, had no income for the months of April and May and found it difficult to pay rent and salaries of teachers, nannies, and other staff.
Federal Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today that semi-private schools should not demand any fees from students as schools are not allowed to operate amid the Covid-19 crisis, as cited by Malay Mail.
He claimed that operation costs for schools were almost zero during closures and alleged that operators were not paying teachers or other staff.
As of May 31, there are a total of 3,113 kindergartens and child care centres in Sarawak and 577 private IPAKK. Of the 3,113 IPAKK registered in Sarawak, 2,853 or 92 per cent have applied for GTK, while 2,791 IPAKK have been approved.
After the federal government announced on June 2 approval for the immediate reopening of child care centres, the Sarawak state government said child care centres in the state would be permitted to resume operations from June 9, following health SOP.
“As of May 31, there are 236 child care centres throughout Sarawak with a total of 3,707 children. From the responses we obtained, most child care centres have made early preparations to resume operations,” said Fatimah.