BA KELALAN: The government had been urged to look into alleged cases of attempts at imparting Islamic teachings and practices to non-Muslim children in some Department of Community Development (Kemas) and government pre-schools, especially in rural areas.
Baru Bian (PKR-Ba Kelalan) yesterday highlighted reports from non-Muslim parents that their pre-school children recited Islamic prayers they learnt from their teachers at home.
From my own constituency of Ba Kelalan I have personally received reports of such incidents happening to children from two families. Many rural areas are predominantly Christian and there is a very real problem of subtle attempts at imparting Islamic teachings and practices to children in these pre-schools, he said when taking part in the debate on the 2012 proposed budget at the August house.
Baru voiced his concern on news that Kemas schools would be taking on the Permata Pintar Negara early education programme and asked whether non-Muslim children will be exempted from Islamic lessons.
What are steps taken by the states government to ensure that teachers of different faith do not impart or teach their beliefs to the children of different faiths or beliefs in these Tadikas or pre-schools in the state? he asked.
Baru then proposed that people from local communities be recruited as teachers in the own communities to teach in these pre-schools to avoid any conflict of religious beliefs.
He also proposed that allocations should be made to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and religious organisations to start and support their own pre-schools.
This is to reflect our support of imparting knowledge to all notwithstanding their racial or religious backgrounds, he said.
At a press conference Baru said that non-Muslim parents wanted to be assured that their pre-school children in pre-schools undertaking the Permata Pintar Negara programme would be exempted from Islamic religious classes.
We want Kemas and pre-schools to be aware that this is happening. We dont want this to be repeated because it has caused anxiety to many non-Muslim parents when they send their children to these pre-schools,
The assemblyman however praised the government for taking measures to ensure that children from the lower socio-economic groups receive early childhood education.
We therefore support Tadika schools started by Kemas and pre-schools by the government established in many parts of the country including the state of Sarawak, he said.