Pendidikan Awal

Connecting with the community through language camps

STUDENTS of the Kulliyyah of Languages and Management (KLM) at International Islamic University Malaysia’s (IIUM) new campus in Pagoh, Johor recently organised a corporate social responsibility programme to engage with the local communities.

Called Mini English Camps with Schools, the programme saw undergraduates majoring in English for International Communication conducting four language camps at SK Paya Redan in Pagoh, and SK Panchor, Tadika Kemas Kampung Jawa and SJK (T) Ladang Lanadron in Panchor, Muar.

Programme manager Noor Hasbullah ‘Arif M. Effandy said the aims of the initiative were for IIUM students to connect with educational establishments in the vicinity of the university and to give opportunities to pupils in the schools to learn and have fun through English.

The camps were conducted fully in English. The themes of presentations were related to the pupil’s daily life such as the environment, history and culture. There were constant interactions and engagements between the university students and pupils aged 4 to 12 years old.

SK Paya Redan pupils learning to grow plants.

“The Mini English Camps gave us a great opportunity to connect with the schoolchildren. It was a really good experience. We had fun,” said Noor Hasbullah.

At SK Paya Redan, 30 pupils took part in the English camp. In the sessions on National Animals, Green Lifestyle and Healthy Eating, the pupils watched videos, played games, did jigsaw puzzles and were involved in engaging activities such as making egg sandwiches and potting plants.

At SK Panchor in Panchor, the IIUM facilitators shared information on The Importance of Breakfast, Kadazandusun, Japanese Culture and Fire Safety. All 30 pupils participated in engaging activities such as dancing the Sumazau dance and making sushi and fireman hats.

SK Panchor student affairs senior assistant Sharifah Zaniwa Syed Mohammad said: “We really look forward to visits from IIUM students again.”

The IIUM students also spent a day at Tadika Kemas Kampung Jawa, Panchor. Twelve undergraduates had a great time with nine children at the kindergarten and discovered that conducting an English camp with a group of young Malay learners is indeed possible.

Tadika Kemas teacher Nor Rashidah Mohd Ali said: “This is the first time that we have English camps with university students.”

At the kindergarten, the IIUM students connected with the young children through topics such as Five Senses, Volcanoes and Animal Kingdom. The popular game, musical chairs, was a success in making the children use their sense of hearing. The children wore animal face masks and created a lava explosion with the volcano models prepared by the students.

At SJK (T) Ladang Lanadron, the pupils learnt about the environment and Malaysia-related topics, namely Malaysian Traditional Games; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; Decorations during Malaysian Celebrations; and Endangered Animals. The 35 pupils enjoyed Do-It-Yourself activities like making piggy banks and lanterns using recycled materials. They also experienced the exciting games of Tarik Upih and Guessing the Scents.

Children at Tadika Kemas Kampung Jawa learning about volcanoes.

Participating IIUM students were happy with what they had achieved and hoped to continue to connect with the community.

Assistant manager of the programme, Nur Hidayah Abdul Aziz, said: “All of us did a great job and we hope to do this again soon.”

Programme adviser Dr Lilisuriani Abdul Latif, who is a lecturer at KLM, said the project allowed students from the faculty to have a real-life experience in managing a programme that would benefit the community.

“Such an experience is also meant to sharpen their communication and people skills. This is in line with IIUM’s vision to produce progressive and dynamic graduates,” she said.

KLM in Pagoh offers four programmes namely English for International Communication, Malay for International Communication, Arabic for International Communication, and Tourism Planning and Hospitality Management.

Sumber diperolehi daripada New Straits Times Online

 

 

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Pendidikan Awal, Program

Urus sisa organik

Dr. Irnis Azura Zakaria (kanan) bersama pelajar SK. IPGM yang

Dr. Irnis Azura Zakaria (kanan) bersama pelajar SK. IPGM yang terlibat dalam program penghasilan baja kompos
Pernahkah terlintas di fikiran bahawa sampah yang kita buang setiap hari sebenarnya boleh dikitar semula untuk menghasilkan baja organik? Cuba bayangkan berapa banyak kawasan tapak pelupusan sampah yang dapat dijimatkan sekiranya amalan kitar semula sisa makanan untuk menjadikan baja kompos dijadikan budaya dalam kalangan masyarakat di Malaysia.

Berdasarkan data tahun 2014, rrakyat Semenanjung Malaysia dikatakan telah menghasilkan sebanyak 30,764 tan sisa pepejal (sampah) sehari dan 36,659 tan sisa pepejal sehari untuk seluruh Malaysia termasuk Sabah dan Sarawak.

Lebih memburuk keadaan, 45.5 peratus daripada jumlah tersebut adalah sisa makanan dan hampir keseluruhan sisa makanan ini akan dihantar ke tapak pelupusan.

Ini menunjukkan bahawa, rakyat Malaysia secara sedar mahupun tidak banyak membazir makanan dengan membuang 16,680 tan makanan sehari ke dalam tong sampah dan seterusnya ke tapak pelupusan.

Perkara tersebut jelas bertentangan dengan ajaran Islam. Situasi seperti ini perlu dihentikan segera dan tidak sepatutnya dibiarkan terus berlaku, biarpun kita masih hidup dalam keadaan yang cukup mewah dan belum diuji dengan kekurangan makanan serius.

Sewajarnya juga, kita mengambil peluang untuk mencipta peluang menjana kewangan melalui hasil pengkomposan bahan organik ini.

Pengkomposan merupakan satu proses pereputan atau penguraian bahan organik seperti sisa makanan dan sisa perkarangan rumah yang diuraikan menjadi humus atau dalam erti kata lainnya menjadi bahan yang mirip seakan tanah.

Pengkomposan adalah teknik semula jadi untuk kitar semula sisa organik menjadi tanah baharu yang dapat digunakan untuk penanaman bunga, sayur, landskap dan banyak lagi.

Anggaran 45.5 peratus sisa yang dibuang ke tapak pelupusan adalah daripada sisa organik dan ini menjadi lebih serius dari tahun ke tahun apabila kadar populasi penduduk negara semakin bertambah.

Justeru, pengkomposan sisa pepejal organik seperti sisa makanan adalah salah satu cara atau kaedah awal dalam pengurangan sisa organik ke tapak pelupusan sampah.

Bagi memacu pelaksanaan kaedah pengkomposan sisa organik ini dan menjadikannya amalan atau budaya dalam kalangan masyarakat, Universiti Malaysia Perlis (Unimap) menerusi Pusat Pengajian Kejuruteraan Alam Sekitar (PPKAS) dengan kerjasama Solid Waste Corporation (SWCorp) Perlis menjalankan Program Penambahbaikan Amalan Pengurusan Sisa Pepejal Organik di Negeri Perlis.

Program tersebut turut dibantu oleh dua orang pelatih siswazah di bawah Geran Program Pemindahan Ilmu (Komuniti) atau Program Pemindahan Ilmu (KTP).

Penyelaras program, Dr. Irnis Azura Zakariya berkata, program tersebut yang memberi fokus kepada pengurangan sisa makanan organik khususnya yang dihasilkan daripada premis makanan.

Ujar beliau, objektif program antara lainnya adalah memperluaskan penggunaan kitar semula dan meningkatkan tahap kesedaran pemilik premis terhadap sisa makanan yang dihasilkan di premis makanan dan pada masa sama dapat memberi pendedahan dan latihan penyediaan kompos dengan menggunakan sisa makanan yang dihasilkan di premis makanan.

“Matlamat penyelidikan ini hanya satu iaitu untuk mendidik masyarakat di negeri Perlis terutama kepada pemilik premis makanan bagi mengurangkan sisa makanan mereka dengan melakukan kaedah pengkomposan sisa makanan seterusnya membantu mengurangkan bebanan sisa di tapak pelupusan sampah di Padang Siding danTapak Pelupusan Baharu di Rimba Emas yang bakal dibuka.

“Sebagai permulaan, program ini dimulakan dengan penglibatan 20 buah premis makanan di negeri Perlis serta ke kafeteria di bawah kelolaan Unimap selaras dengan hasrat universiti itu sendiri untuk menjadikan kampus universiti sebagai Kampus Alam di bawah Projek Kelestarian Kampus.

“Di peringkat Unimap misalnya, baja-baja organik ini digunakan sebagai bahan pemangkin kepada projek tanaman pokok di sekitar kampus Unimap,” ujar beliau.

Menurut Dr. Irnis, program tersebut juga diteruskan ke sekolah-sekolah yang berminat dengan memberi fokus kepada mengurangkan sisa makanan yang terhasil di kantin sekolah.

Jelasnya, antara sekolah yang awal melaksanakan program tersebut untuk tahun ini adalah Sekolah Kebangsaan Institut Pendidikan Guru Malaysia (IPGM), Perlis dan Sekolah Kebangsaan Oran yang telah menjalankan program pengkomposan ini bagi tujuan Projek Tanaman Anggur di sekolah.

Pendedahan awal berbaloi

Program tersebut dianggap menarik kerana dapat memberi pendedahan awal kepada golongan muda. Ia dianggap berbaloi kerana merekalah yang akan mewarisi serta menjadi harapan untuk menerus dan memperkasa dasar-dasar pemuliharaan alam sekitar untuk dekad seterusnya ibarat kata pepatah melentur buluh biarlah dari rebungnya.

Dr. Irnis Azura Zakariya berkata, daripada pelbagai program kesedaran yang dijalankan, satu organisasi yang berjaya dan mampu dijadikan contoh dalam bidang pengkomposan sisa makanan ini adalah dari Sekolah Menengah (SMK) Sanglang.

Jelasnya, ia melibatkan pelajar Pendidikan Khas Intergrasi dengan bantuan guru-guru dalam menjadikan sisa makanan daripada kantin sekolah dan juga Dewan Makan Asrama sebagai sumber bahan pengkomposan mereka.

“Dalam tempoh enam bulan yang pertama sahaja, mereka telah berjaya melupuskan hampir 300 kilogram (kg) sisa makanan yang diperoleh dan menjual hampir 200 kg baja kepada orang awam.

“Bermula dengan hanya sebuah raga, kini sekolah tersebut berjaya mengembangkan saiz penghasilan baja organik mereka kepada tiga buah tangki plastik hasil sumbangan daripada SWCorp. dan Environment Idaman Sdn. Bhd.

“Adalah sesuatu yang mengagumkan apabila kelompok pelajar ini yang dikategorikan sebagai kurang upaya mampu melaksanakan misi dan visi memulihara alam sekitar melalui pengkomposan bahan organik,” ujarnya lagi.

Beliau menambah, lebih mengujakan lagi apabila kelompok pelajar tersebut juga melihat peluang dan ruang yang tidak terlihat oleh pandangan mata kasar manusia normal lainnya untuk menjana pendapatan sampingan melalui aktiviti yang boleh dijadikan sebagai aktiviti riadah bersama keluarga.

“Sekiranya semua rakyat Malaysia mampu mengubah minda masing-masing, nescaya kita tidak hanya akan melahirkan negara yang bersih dan terpelihara sebaliknya mengukuhkan lagi institusi kekeluargaan,” katanya

 

Sumber diperolehi daripada Utusan Malaysia Online

Kesedaran Alam Sekitar, Pendidikan Awal, utusan malaysia

Semarakkan semangat kesukarelawanan

Pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) boleh menyumbang kepada usaha

Pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) boleh menyumbang kepada usaha pemuliharaan alam sekitar dengan menganjurkan program bersama komuniti.

Dalam mempromosikan semangat kesukarelawanan dalam kalangan masyarakat, pada 5 Disember setiap tahun Pertubuhan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu (PBB) mengisytiharkan sebagai Hari Sukarelawan Antarabangsa (IVD).

IVD yang diraikan sejak 1985 bertujuan menghargai jasa dan sumbangan sukarelawan dan meningkatkan lagi kesedaran orang awam tentang semangat tersebut. Sejauh mana rakyat Malaysia menyertai sambutan IVD ini perlu dilihat secara lebih dekat. Malaysia menggalakkan aktiviti kesukarelawanan dan terdapat banyak persatuan atau kelab sukarelawan yang berdaftar pada peringkat institusi, kebangsaan dan antarabangsa.

Di Malaysia, kita nampak sumbangan kumpulan sukarelawan ini semasa negara menimpa bencana misalnya bencana banjir yang menimpa negara di beberapa kawasan di seluruh negara. Begitu juga program sukarelawan membantu geladangan di Kuala Lumpur yang telah banyak mendapat liputan media. Ada juga pasukan sukarela membersihkan pantai tempat tumpuan pelancong.

Sukarelawan bukan sahaja membantu orang yang berada dalam kesusahan tetapi banyak perkara lain yang dapat dilihat seperti kerjasama, bersatu padu, bertolak ansur, prihatin, mewujudkan masyarakat penyayang dan sebagainya, di samping menjimatkan perbelanjaan kerajaan melalui aktiviti bersepadu. Namun ada juga aktiviti kesukarelawanan seperti menjaga alam sekitar dan mempromosikan kesedaran dan amalan menjaga alam sekitar dan alam semula jadi negara.

Khidmat sukarela memang sudah dimulakan sejak di bangku sekolah lagi dan sentiasa diaktifkan. Menerusi aktiviti sukarelawan di sekolah, pelajar akan lebih prihatin dengan apa yang berlaku sebenarnya dalam masyarakat dan menggalakkan mereka berfikir dan mengamalkan perkara yang baik dalam komuniti. Dalam proses mengetahui, memahami, menghayati dan mengamalkan sesuatu perkara itu akan berlaku aktiviti kemahiran berfikir aras tinggi (KBAT) dalam kalangan sukarelawan sekolah. Di universiti juga boleh meneruskan aktiviti sukarelawan pada peringkat yang lebih tinggi. Misalnya, aktiviti bakti siswa oleh pelajar universiti yang selalu dijalankan bersama masyarakat.

Pendidikan alam sekitar menerusi sukarelawan misalnya bertujuan menggalakkan pelajar melakukan kebaikan dan meningkatkan kualiti hidup manusia lain selain daripada pelajar.

Pelajar boleh memilih satu aktiviti yang mudah dan bersama dengan komuniti tempatan seperti menjalankan aktiviti memberikan pengetahuan, kesedaran dan amalan berkaitan alam sekitar. Aktiviti sukarelawan ini selalunya tidak dilakukan secara paksaan, boleh memberikan kefahaman yang lebih kepada pelajar, mengembangkan minat dan bakat yang lebih melebihi peluang yang terbatas dalam kurikulum. Aktiviti sukarelawan selalunya dikaitkan dengan aktiviti yang tidak dibayar iaitu seseorang meluangkan masa mereka secara bebas untuk membantu organisasi atau individu yang bukan saudara mara mereka.

Aktiviti sukarelawan dapat membentuk nilai murni dalam diri seperti peramah, rajin, prihatin dalam melakukan khidmat pelanggan. Sukarelawan suka membantu untuk membuatkan perubahan dalam komuniti berkaitan, menggalakkan kebaikan dan meningkatkan kualiti hidup dari segi persekitaran dan kesejahteraan masyarakat atau individu.

Pembelajaran melalui aktiviti sukarelawan lebih berkesan kerana pelajar mudah memahami sesuatu subjek itu tanpa paksaan. Dalam kurikulum, walaupun pelajar diberikan kredit dan markah masih tidak mencapai tahap tinggi dalam pengetahuan dan penghayatan ilmu yang diberikan. Menerusi aktiviti sukarelawan dapat mengambil peluang menterjemahkan apa yang dipelajari dalam kurikulum kepada amalan peringkat komuniti.

Kajian yang dilaporkan dalam Jurnal Personalia Pelajar 2015 menunjukkan aktiviti sukarelawan meningkatkan keprihatinan pelajar terhadap penjagaan alam sekitar adalah tinggi dan pelajar sanggup menjalankan aktiviti sukarela tanpa meminta apa-apa ganjaran. Bagi yang pernah mengikuti aktiviti sukarela, mereka memahami peranan sukarelawan dan dapat memupuk minat walaupun tidak diberikan ganjaran markah atau upah.

Namun begitu aktiviti sukarelawan tentang alam sekitar perlu diberikan pendedahan yang lebih luas kepada pelajar. Memandangkan perubahan alam sekitar yang sangat mendadak dengan isu-isu yang mencabar maka usaha promosi sukarelawan alam sekitar perlu dipergiat lagi. Aktiviti sukarelawan pelajar universiti kalau dilaksanakan betul-betul mampu mengubah masyarakat.

Agensi seperti Rakan Alam Sekitar (RAS) yang dipromosikan oleh Jabatan Alam Sekitar (JAS), Kementerian Sumber Asli dan Alam Sekitar (NRE) perlu lebih agresif menstrukturkan organisasi dan aktiviti mereka.

Aktiviti-aktiviti RAS termasuklah antaranya melaporkan atau membuat aduan tentang kes-kes pencemaran dan kerosakan alam semula jadi kepada pihak bertanggungjawab seperti aktiviti longgokkan sampah yang sepatutnya dibawa ke tapak pelupusan sampah di tempat yang tidak dibenarkan, kejadian pembalakan haram, aktiviti mencuri pasir sungai, pemburuan haram dan lain-lain.

 

Sumber diperolehi daripada Utusan Malaysia Online.

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Keibubapaan, Masalah Pelajar, Pendidikan Awal, Rencana, Surat

Letting go from Day One

Sunday December 23, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/12/23/nation/12367250&sec=nation

 

 

Mummy the protector: Over-protectiveness will encourage dependence in children. — AFPMummy the protector: Over-protectiveness will encourage dependence in children. — AFP

Parents need to allow their children to make mistakes and learn from them.

IT starts out with looking at the top pre-schools while the child is still in the mother’s womb. Before you know it, this need to have the best of everything for your baby has crept into all aspects of his or her life.

Even when the “baby” has now grown past the legal voting age.

Overprotective parents are nothing new, says Dr Goh Chee Leong, Dean of HELP University’s Faculty of Behavioural Sciences.

“In every generation, there are always some parents who are over-protective. I can’t say if there has been a rise in the phenomenon now,” he says.

Chats with parents and children alike indicate that over-parenting is prevalent in families here.

Tagged as helicopter parents, because they hover over their children, these parents’ over-protectiveness often start with the desire to keep their children safe.

Dr Goh warns that parents’ over-protectiveness will encourage dependence in their children.

“If the child sees their parent playing the role of their protector, their boss or their carer, they’ll tend to think that the parents will continue to look at every aspect of their life and always be dependent on them.”

According to the Human Resources Ministry, one reason why more than 70,000 graduates (as at May 2012) could not get a job was their lack of independent thinking skills.

Child development expert Ruth Liew also believes that when parents do too much over-parenting, children do not learn independence.

“They tend to be indecisive and lack confidence,” she says, advising parents to learn to let go from Day One.

“Know what your child can do by himself and do not interfere because you cannot tolerate mistakes or messes. Allow for mistakes (not the dangerous ones) to happen. Children learn from mistakes.”

To deal with the safety issue without stifling their children, parents can teach them personal safety skills while allowing them to do their own thing or go places on their own securely and at the right age.

“How can you instil independence when you are holding on tightly to them? Guidance means showing the way to children without taking over the task,” she says.

Marriage and family therapist Charis Wong of Kin & Kids concurs.

“If you keep protecting your children from the consequences of their own actions, how are they going to grow up to be responsible people? What is going to happen later when you are not there to rescue them, especially when they are grown up?” she argues.

Wong stresses that maturity will come naturally, but only if you allow your child to grow up naturally.

“If you continue to protect them from the world because you think it is hostile and cruel, then their natural growth will be stunted,” she says.

“They will be conditioned to believe that they are weak and cannot survive in this world, and they will get help every time they get into trouble, face problems or a challenge in life.”

On where to draw the line between supervision and giving freedom, Wong believes it depends on parents’ ability to read the gravity of the individual situations.

“Parents need to be able to discern when you should rescue and when you should not help your child. You need to look at the consequences what should your child learn to endure and what is beyond them?”

Ultimately, she reiterates, parents need to allow their children to make mistakes and learn from them.

If the consequences of not getting involved are so serious or so imminent that they will cost the life of your child, then as a parent you should go and help.

If it is a chronic problem, Wong points out, you need to look at the circumstances. For example, if your child’s car has broken down at 3am, then you should help. But parents should refrain from helping their child when they chronically make the same mistakes as they will think that they should be rescued all the time.

“Many helicopter parents are helping their children with chronic problems, so the kids think that it is their right to be rescued. If the parents are burnt out and finally say that they are not going to help any more, the child may play a guilt trip on their parents they will say the parents don’t care about them, or throw a tantrum because they think they should be rescued.”

Dr Goh reminds parents the importance of encouraging independence in their children and equipping them for adulthood.

It is a long-term goal, he stresses, and as a child grows up even at a young age to their teenage years and late teen years gradually parents need to give more independence and responsibility to the child.

“This means they need to be given the opportunity to make mistakes and take responsibility for their decisions.”

However, he stresses, this does not mean that the safety of the child will be compromised.

“For example, teaching them independence does not mean letting them wander around in the park on their own or allow them to out of school. It needs to be planned.”

One way, he highlights, is to allow your children to make their own decisions when they are old enough.

This can be done gradually, he highlights. At the age of two or three, he suggests, children can be allowed to start making small decisions like deciding if they want to wear a blue or red shirt.

“If you don’t allow your child to make the small decisions, they will not be able to make bigger decisions later when they are older,” Dr Goh notes.

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Pembangunan Sekolah, Pendidikan Awal, Program, Rencana

Good early education reaps benefits

Monday November 26, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/11/26/nation/12354042&sec=nation

Talented bunch: Children from the Peter and Jane Kindergarten performing a dance routine during the launch of the National Early Childhood Education Week 2012 at the Sime Darby Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur.Talented bunch: Children from the Peter and Jane Kindergarten performing a dance routine during the launch of the National Early Childhood Education Week 2012 at the Sime Darby Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: Pre-school education needs to go beyond the pages of books to help children obtain a holistic education experience.

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Council president Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng shares the sentiments.

“Psychologists have long noted the importance of early childhood education because the skills acquired by a child at a later stage are all built on this foundation.

“This is why psychologists call it the formative years’,” she said.

According to Dr Chiam, neuroscience findings have shown that stressful experiences in a child’s early years can harm the developing brain and affect the brain architecture.

She added that the benefits of high-quality early childhood education were manifold.

“This means the memory of the child, his learning ability, and even behaviour, for example, whether he’s able to regulate his emotions, will be affected if he’s not provided with the appropriate experiences,” said Dr Chiam, formerly Professor of Social Psychology at Universiti Malaya (UM) and an authority in child development and early childhood education.

Citing studies in the United States, such as the Perry Preschool which was conducted over a period of four decades, Dr Chiam said children who were provided with high-quality early education tended to stay longer in school as compared to those who were not given such a benefit.

The Perry Preschool study found that “more of the group who received high-quality early education, particularly females, graduated from high school than the non-programme group” and “the group who received high-quality early education had significantly fewer arrests than the non-programme group (36% vs 55% who were arrested five times or more)”.

Dr Zahari Ishak, UM’s Educational Psychology and Counselling Department head, said the way children were taught in the formative years would mould their view of learning as they grew older.

“From the ages of three to six, it’s their time to play.

“It’s not supposed to be a time for grading,” he added.

Recognising the need for quality pre-school education, the EducationNKRA under the Government Transformation Programme has set targets to increase the number of pre-school classes in the urban, rural and remote areas.

Under Budget 2013, an allocation of RM1.2bil has been set aside for various government agencies in an effort to provide quality pre-school education.

In addition, RM380mil will also be provided to the Education Ministry for placement of kindergarten teachers.

Also announced was a provision for a launching grant of RM10,000 to assist operators of ECCE private centres in setting up new high quality pre-schools.

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Pembangunan Sekolah, Pendidikan Awal, Rencana

It’s good to start them early

Sunday November 11, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/11/11/nation/12303753&sec=nation

By LISA GOH
lisagoh@thestar.com.my

Dr Chiam: The world today is so much more complex. Preschool education should teach children intellectual skills — how to think, reason, reflect, create, and solve problems.Dr Chiam: The world today is so much more complex. Preschool education should teach children intellectual skills — how to think, reason, reflect, create, and solve problems.

The benefits to having a high-quality early childhood education are manifold.

WITH her son turning four next year, Amy (not her real name) is now on the hunt for a good kindergarten, but finding one which meets her expectations is proving to be more difficult than she had anticipated.

“It’s surprisingly hard to find a kindergarten where everything fits. I want one which emphasises holistic learning, where children are allowed to learn through play.

“But so many of the kindergartens I’ve seen (near where I live) focus so much on classroom-based activities. It feels so rigid,” says Amy, 34, an accountant who studied and lived abroad for many years before returning to Malaysia.

Among the factors which will influence her decision include cleanliness, safety, a curriculum that looks at the holistic development of a child, and the quality of the teaching staff.

She adds that her son is a hyperactive child.

“I really don’t think he’ll be able to sit still for hours on end while at kindy. And I believe children learn so much faster if they’re having fun while they’re at it.

“Maybe I’m fussy, but I believe in him getting a good kindergarten experience as that sets the foundation for his education,” she says.

The experts, including Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Council president Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng, would agree with Amy.

According to Dr Chiam, quality early childhood education is extremely crucial.

“Psychologists have long noted the importance of early childhood education, because whatever later skills are acquired by the child, they are all built on this foundation. This is why psychologists call it the formative years’,” she says.

She adds that neuroscience findings have shown that stressful experiences in a child’s early years can harm the developing brain, and affect the brain architecture.

“This means the memory of the child, his learning ability, and even behaviour, like whether he’s able to regulate his emotions all these will be affected if he’s not provided with appropriate experiences,” says Dr Chiam, formerly Professor of Social Psychology at Universiti Malaya, and an authority in child development and early childhood education.

She says the benefits to having a high-quality early childhood education are manifold.

Citing studies in the United States, such as the Perry Preschool, which was conducted over a period of four decades, Dr Chiam says children who have high-quality early education tend to stay longer in school, compared with those who don’t.

The Perry Preschool study found that “more of the group who received high-quality early education, particularly females, graduated from high school than the non-programme group”, and “the group who received high-quality early education had significantly fewer arrests than the non-programme group (36% vs 55% who were arrested five times or more)”.

“This is particularly important for children who come from low social economic status. With high-quality early education, they would be inclined to stay longer in school, with less likelihood of dropping out,” Dr Chiam says.

“This means that the country saves in terms of remedial measures, of criminal justice administration, in terms of security, and even healthcare (for example drop-outs who get involved in drugs), and so there is cost savings.”

Cost savings aside, she adds, the country would also benefit because these individuals would end up being productive members of society, instead of “social hang-ons”.

When she says “high-quality preschool education”, she means preschools that go beyond teaching children how to read, write and count.

Dr Zahari: How the children are taught sets the mould to how they will view learning as they grow older. Traditional teaching methods will set them up to have a very narrow view on learning.Dr Zahari: How the children are taught sets the mould to how they will view learning as they grow older. Traditional teaching methods will set them up to have a very narrow view on learning.

“It’s so much more than that. Overseas, children learn problem-solving skills through play. So when they go on to primary schools, they are already able to look for information. They are more resourceful.

“The world today is so much more complex. Preschool education should teach children intellectual skills how to think, reason, reflect, create, and solve problems. In today’s society, just learning how to read and write, without actually learning how to think creatively, is not sufficient.”

Dr Chiam gives an example.

“In Malaysian kindergartens, when you talk about writing, it usually means that a teacher will write a word, and the child has to copy it and write neatly within the lines. That’s not writing, that’s just copying.

“Real writing means the child should be able to express him or herself. Even if they write phonetically, it’s okay. If he doesn’t have the word to express himself, and he draws to show what he means (half in words and half in pictures), that’s okay too. As he grows older and his vocabulary increases, the pictures will be substituted into words. That’s what writing really means,” she explains.

Dr Zahari Ishak, Universiti Malaya’s Educational Psychology and Counselling Department head, concurs.

“At the age of three to six, it’s their time to play. It’s not supposed to be grading time.

“How the children are taught sets the mould to how they will view learning as they grow older. Traditional teaching methods will set them up to have a very narrow view on learning,” he says.

Realising the importance of quality early childhood education, the Government, through its Government Transformation Programme, has set the target to increase the number of preschool classes in the urban, rural and remote areas.

In line with this was the recent Budget 2013 announcement of an allocation of RM1.2bil to various government agencies in an effort to provide quality preschool education. In addition, RM380mil will be allocated to the Education Ministry for placement of kindergarten teachers.

Also announced was a provision for a launching grant of RM10,000 to assist operators of ECCE private centres in opening new high quality preschools. It is estimated that 1,000 new private ECCE centres will benefit from this initiative.

The announcement is timely in making preschool education more accessible to many children, but Dr Chiam and Dr Zahari say the quality of the childcare providers and educators still needs a lot of working on.

It was recently reported that only 3% of private preschool teachers have formal qualification in early childhood education. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the rest only had workplace training, or had undergone courses which were not accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.

“It’s so important for early child educators to have a good understanding of child development. By understanding child development, they will be able to conduct activities which are age appropriate,” Dr Chiam says.

“If it’s too easy, you’re not challenging them (the children). If it’s too difficult, they will not be able to complete the task; it will be frustrating for the child, and it could affect their self-esteem.”

She adds that a ratio of one care-giver to three children should be sufficient “for normal children who do not have special needs”.

Citing examples of countries such as Russia, Finland and Canada, where early childhood educators are PhD holders (minimally with a masters degree), Dr Chiam says that Malaysia could learn a thing or two from them, and “adopt some of their best practices”.

“I believe early childhood educators should have a background in child development and child psychology,” Dr Zahari agrees.

In the grand scheme of things, early childhood education is possibly the best place to start when it comes to human capital investment, says M. Neela Mehan, a lecturer in the Faculty of Economics and Management in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

Neela Mehan, who is the former deputy chief executive officer of the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), says 80% of Malaysia’s 12 million strong workforce are unskilled workers.

“Only 20% of Malaysia’s workforce are skilled workers. Compare this to Taiwan or Singapore, where about 50% of their workforce are skilled workers.

“If 80% of our workforce (are drop-outs and) don’t even have SPM qualification, where do we correct this? In secondary school? I think it would be too late by then. I believe the best way it to tackle this as early possible at preschool stage,” he says.

Dr Chiam supports this by citing the Perry Preschool study, which found a return to society of more than US$17, for every US$1 invested in the early care and education programme, “primarily because of the large continuing effect on the reduction of male crime”.

“These are research based on economic models and human capital development, and they have found that there is definitely an economic gain by investing in quality early childhood education. But to me, this is a bonus. What’s most important for me is how this benefits the individual child,” she says.

And perhaps the most important point of all is summarised in a question raised by Dr Chiam: “Overarching all of this is what society values. What do we want our children to become?”

2012, Arkib Berita, Pembangunan Sekolah, Pendidikan Awal

Institusi prasekolah cemerlang perlu dedikasi guru, pengasuh, ibu bapa

Posted on November 5, 2012, Monday

CEMERLANG: Fatimah menyampaikan hadiah kepada salah seorang murid Sekolah Rendah Islam Al-Amin.

KUCHING: Institusi pendidikan prasekolah yang cemerlang memerlukan dedikasi sepenuhnya daripada guru dan pengasuh serta ibu bapa untuk memastikan perkembangan positif kanak-kanak dari segi minda dan sahsiah diri.

Menteri Kebajikan, Wanita dan Pembangunan Keluarga Datuk Fatimah Abdullah berkata pendidikan prasekolah seperti taska dan tadika memainkan peranan penting pada peringkat asas pendidikan seseorang kanak-kanak.

Beliau berkata setakat tahun 2012 Sarawak mempunyai 117 taska dengan bilangan kanak-kanak seramai 2,186 dan 346 pengasuh manakala bilangan tadika di negeri ini adalah 3,331 buah dengan bilangan kanak-kanak mencecah 77,002 dan guru seramai 5,243 orang.

Untuk menggalakkan lagi pendaftaran kanak-kanak ke insititusi prasekolah, kerajaan telah mengambil beberapa inisiatif melalui Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia termasuk menambahkan bilangan taska dan tadika di negeri Sarawak dengan kerjasama agensi kerajaan seperti Jabatan Kemajuan Masyarakat (KEMAS), Jabatan Perpaduan Negara dan Integrasi Nasional (JPNIN), SeDIDIK dan pihak swasta tambah beliau.

Menurutnya, statistik daripada Jabatan Pelajaran Negeri Sarawak menunjukkan peningkatan sebanyak 97 peratus murid-murid Tahun Satu yang pernah mengikuti kelas prasekolah bagi tempoh 2010 hingga 2012.

“Bagi membantu meningkatkan kualiti pendidikan awal kanak-kanak khususnya di peringkat prasekolah dan tadika, Majlis Pembangunan Pendidikan Awal Kanak-kanak Sarawak (MPAKS) telah menggubal dan mewujudkan Manual Standard Kualiti Pendidikan Tadika di Negeri Sarawak yang telah dilancarkan pada bulan Mac lepas.

“Ia adalah sebagai garis panduan bagi tadika awam dan swasta merangkumi lima dimensi utama iaitu aspek fizikal, program pembelajaran, kebajikan dan kesejahteraan murid, personel dan pengurusan,” katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian sewaktu berucap pada  Majlis Penyampaian Sijil dan Hadiah Tadika Nurul Iman dan Sekolah Rendah Islam Al-Amin di Auditorium Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara semalam.

Beliau juga menekankan kelayakan guru-guru khususnya di tadika hendaklah memiliki sekurang-kurangnya Diploma Pendidikan Awal Kanak-kanak bagi memastikan keberkesanan program prasekolah.

Bagi guru-guru yang tidak memiliki sijil tersebut digalakkan mendaftar bagi menghadiri Konvensyen Pendidikan Prasekolah Siri 7 Tahun 2012 yang akan diadakan di RH Hotel Sibu pada 12 hingga 14 November ini, jelasnya.

Konvensyen yang diadakan sejak 2006 itu bertujuan memberi pengetahuan, meningkatkan kemahiran dan menjadi ruang perkongsian pengalaman bagi guru-guru prasekolah mengenai kaedah penyampaian pembelajaran yang berkualiti dan berkesan, ujar beliau.

Majlis semalam juga menyaksikan penyampaian hadiah kepada pelajar cemerlang akademik oleh Fatimah serta persembahan menarik daripada murid-murid Tadika Nurul Iman dan Sekolah Rendah Islam Al-Amin.