KUCHING, Nov 19 — The Sarawak government places great emphasis on early childhood through its commitment to providing inclusive and quality early education to Sarawakian children, said Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
The Deputy Premier said this is as stated under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 which is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
He stressed that embracing inclusivity in early childhood education is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic investment in the long-term success and well-being of a nation.
“Every child has the right to access high-quality education and experience a sense of belonging in society. They should be given the chance to reach their full potential, regardless of their background, circumstances, or disabilities.
“Inclusion happens when children are viewed and regarded as capable and valued contributors as opposed to having deficits that need to be fixed or rectified,” he said when officiating the closing ceremony of the Sarawak Preschool International Convention 2023 here today.
He pointed out that the foundation of inclusive practices lies in the knowledge, understanding, and skills of early childhood educators and caregivers to understand and address the diverse needs of their children effectively while ongoing training ensures that teachers are equipped with the latest information, knowledge, and skills in dealing with special needs children.
“Inclusive education thrives in an environment where collaboration is not just encouraged but embedded in the culture.
“Regular communication and collaboration among teachers, special education professionals, support staff, and parents create a holistic support system that addresses the comprehensive needs of each child,” he said.
He also said that inclusivity is a collaborative effort that involves not only educators but also families and the broader community.
“Establishing strong partnerships with parents, guardians, and community members creates a strong support network that enhances the overall well- being and development of each child,” he remarked.
At the same time, he said inclusive practices extend beyond academic achievement as they encompass social development, skills, and talents.
“Just by witnessing the talents of our special needs children today, we believe that with proper support, motivation, and guidance, our special needs children can be the shining stars and able to be successful and lead a dignified life.
“Thus, a holistic approach of inclusivity should promote opportunities for positive peer interactions, group activities, and fostering a culture of acceptance and understanding to contribute to a supportive social environment for all children.”
Awang Tengah commended the Ministry of Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development for organising the convention and bringing in local and international speakers to share their knowledge and experience under the theme ‘Supporting Inclusive Practices in Early Childhood Settings’.
“I strongly believe that what the participants have gathered for the past two days will surely enhance their knowledge and broaden their perspectives with regard to early childhood and inclusivity.
“Educators, caregivers, and parents must be involved and engaged in training, courses, or workshops not only to enhance their knowledge and skills but most importantly to share and exchange ideas and establish a network to support them in raising special needs children,” he said.
During the ceremony, Awang Tengah presented three awards namely the ‘Quality Taska Award 2023’ which went to Taska SeDidik Kompleks Kebajikan Dalat; ‘Quality Kindergarten Award 2023’ to Tadika SeDidik Kampung Tunku Abdul Rahman Miri; and the ‘Innovation and Creativity Special Award 2023’ to Tabika Kemas PPAK Kampung Jebungan Mukah.
He also presented tokens of appreciation to state para-athletes Bonnie Bunyau Guntin and Muhammad Nur Syaiful Zulkafli.
Among those present were Awang Tengah’s wife Datin Amar Dayang Morliah Awang Daud, Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah and her husband Datuk Adi Badiozaman Tuah, Deputy Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Ministers Datuk Rosey Yunus and Datuk Mohammad Razi Sitam, Opar assemblyman Billy Sujang, and Consul-General of the Republic of Indonesia in Kuching Raden Sigit Witjaksono. — Borneo Post