16 Nov 2011
KUCHING: Sarawak parents are concerned over subtle attempts at imparting Islamic teachings and practices to children in pre-schools in the rural areas, said Baru Bian, Ba’Kelalan state assemblyman.
Debating the 2012 budget, Bian, who is Sarawak PKR chief said: “Many rural areas are predominantly Christian, and there is a very real problem of subtle attempts at imparting Islamic teachings and practices in pre-schools.
“There are reports from parents of school children that their children come home from school and recite the Islamic ways of praying at home.
“From my own constituency of Ba’Kelalan, I have personally received reports of such incidents that happened to children from two families,” he said.
According to news reports, the KEMAS director general Datuk Abdul Puhat Mat Nayan said that beginning 2010, KEMAS established 539 new pre-school classes and will open another 2,000 new ones.
Last year, KEMAS opened 150 kindergartens in the state and for this year, they have set up 300 more to increase the accessibility to early childhood education.
Bian said that the people are concerned that these pre-schools are staffed by teachers from outside the local community and worst if they come from Peninsular Malaysia, the majority of whom are Muslims.
“Added to this concern is the news that KEMAS schools will be taking on the PERMATA syllabus, as announced in Sabah in July this year by National PERMATA programme patron Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
“I was informed that one of the subjects in the PERMATA curriculum is Islamic teachings in class.
“Can we be guaranteed that all non-Muslim children be exempted from these classes or lessons?
“What are the steps taken by the state government to ensure that teachers of different faiths do not impart or teach their beliefs to the children of different faiths or beliefs in these Tadika or Pra-Sekolah in the state?” asked Bian.
He said: “I propose that local teachers from the local community be recruited to teach in these Tadika or pra-sekolah to avoid any conflict of religious beliefs.
“Secondly, I propose that allocations should be made to NGOs and religious organisations to start or support their own Tadika or pre-schools to reflect our support of imparting knowledge to all notwithstanding their racial or religious backgrounds,” Bian said.
On the teaching of mother tongue, Bian asked the government that there be an official budget every year allocated for the teaching of languages of all the different races in Sarawak from pre-school to Primary Six level.
“The loss of our people’s mother tongue is a serious threat and the precursor to the loss of our culture and identity. The preservation of our languages must be given priority or our people will slowly lose their unique and distinct cultures.
“With the common incidences of inter-marriage between different races in Sarawak, this request needs immediate implementation, “ said Bian, pointing out that it is viable that funds, which are allocated to KEMAS or Permata, can be used to train teachers to teach their local languages or dialects.