Christian parents in rural Sarawak are uncomfortable listening to the pre-school children reciting Islamic prayers at home.
KUCHING: Parents in Sarawak are concerned about the subtle attempts at imparting Islamic teachings and practices to children in pre-schools in the rural areas.
Debating the 2012 budget in the current Sarawak Legislative Assembly sitting, Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian said there was a ‘very real problem’ because parents were complaining that their children come home from school reciting Islamic prayers.
“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,” said Bian, who is also Sarawak PKR chief.
According to news reports, the Kemas director-general Puhat Mat Nayan said that as at 2010, Kemas had 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.
Ensure fair teachings
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 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.
Bian said to ensure fair teachings in Kemas, teachers from the local communities should be recruited.
“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.
Re-direct Permata funds
On the teaching of mother tongue language, Bian asked the government to allocate an official budget every year 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.
He suggested that funds allocated to Kemas or Permata be used instead to train teachers to teach in their local languages or dialects.