Minister moots private Kemas nursery arm to help middle-income families

Rural Development Minister Datuk Dr Abd Latiff Ahmad is pictured during a visit to a preschool in Putrajaya July 1, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Rural Development Minister Datuk Dr Abd Latiff Ahmad is pictured during a visit to a preschool in Putrajaya July 1, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, July 1 — The Rural Development Ministry is considering a private wing to its Community Development Department (Kemas) nurseries and kindergartens after seeing a surge in interest from parents outside of the programme’s scope.

Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said the proposed unit could ease the burden of parents, including those in civil service, who were excluded from the Kemas programme that was only available to those in the Bottom 40th percentile (B40) of income earners.

“We are thinking of a creative solution so that those who are not within the B40 category, because even if they are just slightly above the threshold, they don't qualify.

“And especially for civil servants, where both the husband and wife are working; the husband a government officer and also the wife, and when you add those two (salaries) together, they don’t qualify,” he said.

Dr Abdul Latiff said the proposal would be particularly beneficial to households that are just over the upper limit of the B40 category.

He said such families were forced to spend around RM600 a month at private nurseries and kindergartens.

“But if we are able to reduce this price a little bit and make it more affordable to the M40 category, I think we will start seeing the demand,” he said.

When asked if this suggestion to expand Kemas would be included in next year’s federal Budget, he said there was a surplus of buildings in Putrajaya that could be repurposed without needing additional government funding.

“Maybe we can start with a trial, a pilot programme and from there we can see how the demand is.

“And we want it to be open, where if possible we want Tabika Kemas not to be known as an exclusively-Malay nursery; it will be multiracial,” he added.

Dr Abdul Latiff made the remarks during a visit to the Kemas nursery in Presint 11 here this morning, where he observed how new teaching methods and seating arrangements were implemented on the first day of school since the movement control order was enforced in March.

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