KUCHING: Political rhetoric should not be at the expense of investment in childhood development, said Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

“Investments in early childhood development are valuable towards ensuring quality human capital," she said during the 28th SeDidik Mutiara Kuching Zone convocation ceremony at Hotel Grand Dormani Rajah Court, Pending yesterday.

Fatimah noted that the state government has approved an allocation of RM16 million as special grant (GTK) for registered Early Childhood Education Institutions (IPAKK) in the state.

“The Sarawak government has also allocated RM20 million for the taking over of 100 SeDidik centres from Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), and which will be placed under my ministry.

“The number of pupils will also increase to 3,500 next year compared to this year's number of 2,050 pupils," she said.

Fatimah presents a certificate to a pupil.

She explained that the take-over of the pre-school centres from SEDC was to ensure the empowerment and strengthening of early childhood development.

Fatimah also disclosed that by 2021, all SeDidik pre-school teachers will have at least a Diploma in Early Childhood Education.

SeDidik will adopt an 'Open Door Policy' that will accept children including special needs children, to ensure that they can have the same education.

“The welfare of teachers will be attended to as well, which is why Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has agreed that teachers will be paid according to their qualifications.

“We will also want to make SeDidik as a benchmark for IPAKK, not just in the state but also nationally and internationally," she stated.

>Sources: New Sarawak Tribune