KUALA LUMPUR – February 21, 2017: The Permata division of the Prime Minister’s Department has made clear that its education programmes cannot be transferred to any other relevant ministries.
This is stated by its secretary Datuk Saidatu Akhma Hassan in response to the call by opposition parties for Permata’s programmes to be separated from the PMD.
Several Pakatan Harapan leaders claim that doing so will cut the department’s operating expenditure.
Saidatu Akhma, in an email to The Mole today, explained that it is unfeasible to do so because many of Permata’s programmes were created to fill-in the gaps caused by discrepancies among several laws, including the Education Act.
For example, the early-childhood education programme, Permata Negara, cannot be placed under the Education Ministry because children below the age of four are not within the purview of the ministry.
“Back then our national pre-school education syllabus only catered to those aged four to six.
“But the mental and emotional development of a child begins the moment they are born and this is where Permata Negara comes in,” she wrote, adding that Permata’s programmes merely complements the existing education syllabus.
Also, despite being under the PMD, Permata has no trouble collaborating with agencies and departments of various ministries.
“We have been collaborating with the Community Development Department (Ministry of Rural and Regional Development) to enhance the quality of its kindergarten’s early-childhood programs, especially the ones in rural areas,” she wrote.
If Permata was not created, Saidatu Akhma argued that children below the age of four, especially those in rural areas with limited accessibility to quality early childhood education, would be neglected.
“If it had not been for Permata, only privileged children in ubran areas would have access to quality early-childhood education due to their enrollment in private kindergarten that uses international curriculum,” she added.
Today, DAP lawmaker Yeo Bee Yin, who had previously attended a closed-door briefing with Permata in October last year, argued that Permata’s staff were inexperienced to be teaching early-childhood education.
“We see no reason why the programmes (Permata’s) cannot be run by other relevant ministries which surely have more experienced and expertise than PMD’s staff in matters concerning early-childhood education,” she told The Mole in an email.
Responding to Yeo’s poser, Saidatu Akhma rebutted that the teachers in all of 88 Permata centres nationwide are from the Ministry of Education.
These teachers, also known as DG41 education officers, are trained professionals specialising in early-childhood education.