KUCHING: The applications for the 2020 Special Annual Grant (GTK) worth RM5,000 for Children's Early Education Institutions (IPAKKs) will close on Feb 28, said Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

The Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister urged the IPAKKs which had not applied yet to do so as the closing date was just round the corner.

“The ministry hopes that they (IPAKKs) will be able to utilise this (GTK) and submit a report on the expenditure of GTK to the ministry by Nov 30 this year,” she told reporters during a press conference at the Baitulmakmur Building here yesterday.

The GTK is one of the state government's initiatives to help all registered IPAKKs. For that purpose, it has allocated a total of RM16 million for the implementation of GTK this year.

Fatimah said that as of last year, 2,863 IPAKKs or 91 percent of the total 3,061 IPAKKs in the state had applied for the GTK which involved an approved amount of RM14,315,000.

According to her, the GTK aims to provide free nutritious and balanced meals, initiate fun learning and digitalisation of nursing for the development of children, increase the teachers' competency as well as encourage involvement of parents.

Fatimah Abdullah

“So far, we have received positive feedback on the implementation of GTK and we encourage those (IPAKKs) facing financial problems to seek advice from the ministry,” she added.

Fatimah told that as of Nov 30 last year, there were 2,904 registered kindergartens and 258 childcare centres, bringing the total number of IPAKKs in the state to 3,162.

Meanwhile, the number of children aged 7 and below who have registered in IPAKKs throughout the state is 85,343. Out of that number, 81,104 children are registered in pre-schools and kindergartens (Tadika/Tabika).

Fatimah pointed out that the number was subject to change as parents were still in the process of registering their children in the IPAKKs.

She said that the finalised data would be announced again in the first week of February after each IPAKK had handed over the final number of registrations for the year 2020.

She said Kemas had reported that as of January this year, there were 1,468 kindergarten classes nationwide with a total of 18,015 children while its Taska/nurseries — for children aged 5 and below — had recorded a total of 86 classes and 1,189 children.

She also mentioned that as of yesterday, the State Education Department pre-schools had recorded 1,521 classes and 22,959 children nationwide.

Fatimah added that the State Early Childhood Development Council (MPAKS) would continue to focus on four key areas to develop the children namely, to increase the quality of IPAKKs, the quality of its educators, the quality of children as the products or assets as well as the involvement of parents.

>Sources: New Sarawak Tribune