Maybe end the class divide in preschool? — Hafidz Baharom

JULY 1 — The Malaysian Rural Development Ministry has mooted the setting up of privately managed middle-income nurseries and kindergartens to assist middle income earners cope with the cost of living.

Reported by the Malay Mail’s Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin, minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said the unit proposed under the Community Development Department (Kemas) could help ease the burden of parents, including those in the civil service, who were excluded by the programme made exclusive to the Bottom 40 (B40) income earners.

“We are thinking of a creative solution so that those who are not within the B40 category, because even if they are slightly over 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.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves, why have a separate entity at all?

Why not combine the Kemas preschools and nurseries for the B40 and M40, and just amend the programme accordingly for the M40?

Is there seriously a need for a separate entity simply to segregate the M40 and B40?

This in fact leads to a rather different question.

Would we not be better to see our kids mingling across the class divide at a young age, to bring some form of equality and allow kids to be kids, and make friends accordingly?

After all, we don’t force such separations on national schools, so why do we insist on doing so for kindergarten and nurseries?

From a social standpoint, getting kids to mingle between classes and also having parents involved would be beneficial in the long run, as kids will make friends and parents will have to explain the differences in wealth and income at a young age.

This, in turn, would lead to a more equal society where income is no longer a barrier that subsequently becomes a form of separation and segregation.

From a bureaucratic standpoint, it would only mean the need to set up a pay system under Kemas, rather than form a totally different private entity that would only lead to outsourcing.

It would be better and cheaper if government considers just amending the current programme to include the M40 and set up a payment scheme which can then be used to subsidise the costs of Kemas unto the government’s coffers.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer(s) or organisation(s) and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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