KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 — The Youth and Sports Ministry (KBS) is working on a second round of free swimming lessons to children in the B40 low-income bracket after the warm reception to its first programme last month.
The ministry said it will be finalising the second round of free swimming classes for B40 children in the near future, and plans to test out a pilot scheme for the swimming lessons to other groups such as the elderly by July.
“The KBS is also drafting a KLAS Renang pilot project to be expanded to persons with disabilities (OKU), senior citizens and children aged less than six years old, which is expected to start in July 2023,” the ministry said in a statement today.
The ministry was referring to the swimming lessons under a basic sports skill training programme, otherwise known as KLAS Renang, which the ministry said had received encouraging response and positive feedback among B40 families since its launch in early May.
“KBS hopes that KLAS Renang will continue to receive response and participation from B40 families and achieve KBS's main objective in reducing the rate of deaths due to drowning among children,” the ministry said.
Malay Mail previously reported its Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh saying that selection for participation in the programme was based on districts with the highest rate of death by drowning.
The ministry had identified 18 districts of concern in Kuala Lumpur and seven states: Selangor, Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, Kedah, Johor and Pahang.
The first round of free swimming classes for B40 children rolled out on May 13 at the Swim Splash Academy in Taman Kepong, Kuala Lumpur.
The ministry carried out the free swimming classes through the National Youth and Sports Department with the support of the Malaysia Swimmers and Swimming Coaches Association. Financial services firm Allianz Malaysia Berhad and food giant Nestle Products Sdn Bhd are the ministry’s strategic partners.
As of June 4, a total of 288 out of 720 participants have completed their lessons and training under the first round of the free swimming lessons, otherwise known as Series 1 of KLAS Renang, the ministry said.
Based on coaches’ observation, participants in KBS free swimming lessons have shown positive development, especially in terms of building confidence while in the water which involves such skills: bubbles and hold breath; floating (star float); kicking and dynamic kick with air exchange; pulling and combination pull and kick, KBS said.
The ministry said there were several participants who had even mastered the swimming techniques of freestyle and backstroke kicking with an average 91 per cent of mastery of basic swimming skills in a very short period.
Malay Mail previously reported that the Youth and Sports Ministry received the lowest allocation under Budget 2023 at just RM374 million despite youths making up nearly a third of the country's population and almost half the registered voters, and that the ministry was paying RM395,800 to run the free swimming lessons and had plans last month to continue the classes if there was positive response.
Read here for more about the free swimming classes for B40 children by KBS, including what families and one of the coaches think.
The World Health Organisation had in 2021 released a report identifying drowning as one of top five causes of death for young children in close to 50 countries.
The Perak Clinical Research Centre had in a study found that some 500 persons die from drowning every year with most of them being children, and with drowning the second highest cause of death for those aged between one to 18.