Sarawak minister denies conversion bid at pre-schools

(Bernama) – Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian’s alleged claims that there were attempts to impart Islamic teachings and practices to non-Muslim children in some Department of Community Development (Kemas) and government pre-schools are not true, says a state minister.

Sarawak Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Fatimah Abdullah said investigations carried out at 11 Kemas pre-schools in Ba’kelalan found that only tutors were Muslims while two of the pre-schools had a majority of Muslim children.

“Eight other pre-schools comprised non-Muslim teachers,” said Fatimah when winding-up debate at the Sarawak state assembly in Kuching today.

Fatimah added that the placement of a Muslim teacher in one of the Kemas pre-schools was only temporary, pending the appointment of a local teacher from the constituency.

Denying claims that there were many teachers from the mainland (west Malaysia) teaching at Kemas pre-schools, Fatimah urged all state assemblypersons to be cautious when issuing sensitive statements, especially those related to religion.

She said all teachers in Kemas pre-schools were locals.

Baru had last week alleged that in many rural areas that are predominantly Christian, there were subtle attempts at imparting Islamic teachings and practices to children in pre-schools.

He had highlighted reports from non-Muslim parents that their pre-school children recited Islamic prayers they had learnt from their teachers, at home.

Meanwhile, Fatimah also announced a proposal to set up a One Stop Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Registration Centre) to reduce the duration period for approval of applications for pre-schools and nurseries in Sarawak.

Fatimah said the approval period for registration of such schools had already been reduced from three years to one.