Minister says nationwide daycare centre and kindergarten SOP clear, but Opposition MPs disagree

Soo Wern Jun
·4-min read
A kindergarten in Taman Setapak Jaya, Kuala Lumpur undergoes disinfection March 25, 2020. — Bernama pic
A kindergarten in Taman Setapak Jaya, Kuala Lumpur undergoes disinfection March 25, 2020. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — The standard operating procedure (SOPs) for kindergartens and daycare centres in respective states is clear, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof.

Redzuan, who holds the Special Functions portfolio, however, admitted any confusion that has arisen of late was likely due to a delay in conveying that information to the ground.

“Our SOP is clear, (but) there could be a delay in the dissemination of information (to the ground) and we will have to check and ensure that the SOPs can be standardised according to what has been stipulated by the MKN (National Security Council),” Redzuan told the Dewan Rakyat today during his winding-up speech on the Budget 2021 Bill.

Redzuan was responding to DAP’s Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh and Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching who queried the possible confusion between ministries when deciding a standardised SOP for kindergartens and daycare centres.

During Redzuan’s wind-up speech, Yeoh had interjected to ask about the rationale behind disallowing the operation of daycare for five- to six-year-olds, while permitting those that took in children aged four years and below.

At the same time, Teo asked about the reason behind shutting kindergartens in states that are categorised as green zones such as Pahang, but allowing Johor and Melaka to continue their kindergarten operations.

“This seems to indicate confusion among the ministers themselves, which in turn could cause confusion on the ground among kindergarten operators,” said Teo when seeking a clarification from Redzuan.

To this, Redzuan said he will bring the matter to the National Security Council meeting at the committee level to review the concerns that have been raised.

“We will bring this to the MKN meeting at committee stage... and check again what has been disputed, whether it is really happening (on the ground),” he said.

Separately, in a press conference held at the Parliament building, Teo said until today, Pahang has registered no active Covid-19 cases, yet kindergartens are not allowed to reopen, while Johor and Melaka (where the conditional movement control order ended on Sunday) have received instructions to reopen kindergartens.

“They are showing us a really good example of a lack of consistency in the SOP and instructions issued by government agencies.

“I think our ministers need to talk to each other. If there are no meetings, then they should use their WhatsApp.

“Kindergarten and tuition centre operators are very confused by the instructions from our government,” she said.

Yeoh, who was also present at the press conference, asked for clarification regarding daycare centres under the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry while kindergartens are regulated under the Education Ministry.

“So maybe these two ministries didn’t discuss it or maybe the MKN didn’t know because many people don’t know that kindergartens are under the Education Ministry.

“When the instruction is only about daycare centres, it leaves parents wondering: what about kindergartens?

“Some parents have children in both daycare centres and kindergartens. At the same time, they still have to go to work. So some called the hotline but the hotline couldn’t provide a clear-cut answer to the parents,” said Yeoh.

She added that when the service-based industry is not providing a service, it means that most parents would not want to pay any fees.

“When parents don’t want to pay, the teachers won’t get salaries.

“Last week, the three of us did a Zoom meeting because kindergarten operators in Pahang, a green zone, called us and said no one is fighting for their cause and some of them even cried in front of us because they still need to pay teachers’ salaries.

“If the shutdown continues, they will close shop,” she said.

Yeoh also said that a petition was submitted to the Education Ministry two weeks ago but they have yet to receive any feedback.

Former education minister and Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malek, who was also present at the press conference, agreed that there is a possible communication breakdown between the Education Ministry, Women, Family and Community Development Ministry and stakeholders.

“To them (parents) it’s confusing because parents can go out to work but cannot send their children to kindergarten because only daycare centres are allowed (to reopen).

“We hope the Education Ministry can contact these people and provide an explanation to them because it involves these operators’ source of income and leaves parents feeling even more burdened,” he said.

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