Parents, teachers urge kindergartens to reopen

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by BERNAMA

KINDERGARTEN operators are urging the National Security Council and Education Ministry to consider reopening preschools during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

This petition was made after parents and kindergarten teachers expressed their grouses following the order to close all schools while the CMCO is in place.

In the petition on change.org, kindergarten operators stressed that their services are essential in this time of global crisis.

While some parents are lucky enough to work from home (WFH), there are others who are not as fortunate and must go to the office every day.

“Some parents have to take unpaid leave to take care of their children, while WFH parents are having difficulties focusing on work with their children running around at home.

“Parents will also expose their children to Covid-19 if they take them to work when there is nobody at home to take care of them,” the petition reads.

At the time of writing, 3,600 people have signed the petition. The target is to reach 5,000 signatures.

The CMCO is imposed on all states in the peninsular from Nov 9 until Dec 6 except for Perlis, Pahang and Kelantan.

The petition said kindergartens play a big role in taking care of and ensuring the mental health of children.

The operators argued that many parents have trouble caring for and teaching their children while working at home, which would lead to the children feeling angry and ignored.

“Children’s emotions could also be disturbed if they are sent to new babysitters. There have been children crying and wanting to go back to their kindergarten. They want to see the familiar faces of their teachers and friends.

“Children are very sensitive and are easily traumatised if this condition persists,” the petition said.

Besides, on top of the kindergarten fees that are already paid, parents also need to pay additional fees to babysitters to take care of their children while they work. However, most babysitters do not have an education certificate.

“All parents want their children to receive good education and not to be left behind. Therefore, kindergarten teachers are better trained to take care of and educate young children.

“Hence, we hope kindergartens will be given the green light to reopen,” it added.

There is also fear that kindergarten teachers would lose their jobs and source of income if the establishments remain closed.

During the previous CMCO, as some kindergartens were trying to stay afloat, many of their staff had to be laid off or ordered to go on unpaid leave.

In many cases, these laid-off employees had family members whose sources of income were also affected due to the pandemic.

“If kindergarten educators lose their jobs, their household incomes, which are largely in the bottom 40% income group, will be severely affected,” the petition said.

It added that the kindergarten operators will abide by strict standard operating procedures for the sake of the children and the survival of educators.

“If we do not operate, our businesses will be closed for good as we can no longer afford the operating costs. We have experienced sudden challenges from March to July this year. No education management can maintain their centres after this second time of closure,” the operators said in the petition.

Among the parents who signed the petition, Lee Seng Chuan agreed that childcare services are essential as his company is not practicing WFH.

Meanwhile, Dya Nardzin said as a frontliner, she hoped that kindergartens would reopen.

“Preschools should open soon. This is because teachers do not know the development of students properly by doing online classes,” she said.

In the comment section of the petition, Tharshini Gunalan said parents are not able to teach as well as teachers.

“Thus, children’s education is affected. I hope our government will allow preschools to reopen.”