Get right education from the start

CINDY Tan has a huge problem finding the right pre-school for her four-year-old daughter.

“I’m often unimpressed by the quality of teachers,” admitted Tan who is in her late 30s.

“I once went to a playschool where the teacher spoke in broken English and Mandarin. I wonder how she teaches her students.”

Tan is not alone.

Many young parents face a similar dilemma in finding the ‘perfect’ centre for their children.

A child’s brain develops rapidly, so does learning capability, from birth until the age of eight.

In 2013, the Education Ministry launched the National Pre-School Quality Standard – a self-assessment tool on the quality of pre-school education.

Three years later, the ministry revealed at least 21 per cent of the 5,540 registered kindergartens were still not meeting the standards set.

In a bid to raise the standard of teaching and professionalism in the industry, the ministry introduced a regulation requiring nursery and pre-school teachers to possess at least a diploma in early childhood education (ECE) by 2020.

The announcement was music to the ears of Mohan Dallumal – an expert in ECE and young children with special needs.

Early childhood education is important as this is where we lay the foundation of a child’s life.

Mohan, a senior lecturer at Dika College and a veteran in the industry, believes the key to building transformational educators is equipping them with the proper tools.

This is why he has always been a proponent of qualified teachers in childcare and pre-schools.

“ECE is important as this is where we lay the foundation of a child’s life. There are many good teachers out there but they do not possess the right paper qualification,” said Mohan, who served as an executive council member of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Council of Malaysia from March 2013 to March 2017.

Last year, he was nominated as a committee member of the Professional Development Board of the ECCE council.

“Without proper training, they (teachers) may not be able to identify children with special needs or help nurture the leaders of tomorrow.

Mohan said time is running out for many centres that do not have qualified teachers. While he feels sorry for them, he hopes the ministry stands firms on the 2020 deadline.

“It is easier to build children than repair adults and this is why it is essential for us to help produce top quality teachers.”

“I received calls from some centres saying not all their teachers have the right papers.

“I asked them why they didn’t insist on it as the government has given ample time to get it right but many could not answer.

“My advice to centres or kindergartens is to get qualified teachers,” he said.

Mohan stressed the matter should not be taken for granted.

“The quicker we get qualified teachers in place, the better for the country.”