RYTHM Foundation addresses the plight of pre-school teachers through salary grant
Private community pre-schools in Malaysia continue to face a bleak future after a year of battling with the Covid-19 pandemic. Many parents are not yet ready to send their kids to kindergarten due to health and safety concerns and those who are ready, are either not able to pay the schools fees or want discounts on the school fees.
Pre-school operators in many parts of the country have incurred huge losses during this past year as they were unable to collect fees from parents. The situation is worse in the case of private community preschools catering to children from low-income families where parents are unable to pay fees because of issues such as loss of income or retrenchment. Yet, many preschool teachers in such community pre-schools have continued providing classes to these children, some without getting any pay for months.
The teachers’ plight came to the attention of RYTHM Foundation Chairperson Datin Sri Umayal Eswaran who instituted a salary grant for teachers through a collaboration with Persatuan Penjana Impian Guru-guru Malaysia (PPIGM), an NGO that oversees these pre-schools and works towards capacity building of teachers.
The grant will fund the salaries of pre-school teachers and assistant teachers in 15 pre-schools in the States of Selangor and Perak in Malaysia as they do not receive government funding and rely on the community for support.
The two-year support programme will help around 375 preschoolers from B40 (Bottom 40% Income segment) families with access to uninterrupted education.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in a virtual event between RYTHM Foundation and PPIGM. The Foundation was represented by our Chairperson Datin Sri Umayal Eswaran and PPIGM by its Vice President, Ms Varalu Thevi Muthalu.
In her remarks during the MoU signing, Datin Sri Umayal said education is essential for children from low-income and minority communities to break the cycle of poverty.
“We aim to help these community pre-schools become a centre of learning and become model community pre-schools for the rest of the country,” she said.
Datin Sri Umayal also highlighted the importance of creating a solid foundation with quality pre-school education to enable children in their academic journey.
“It is ever more critical to assist children from disadvantaged homes where parents and family members are not able to teach or guide the children in any way. We firmly believe that helping these children at this stage in their life will in the long run result in facilitating the upliftment of their community,” she added.
PPIGM President Punitha Mokhan said the salary grant from RYTHM Foundation has motivated the teachers to continue their work.
“Some pre-school operators had no choice but to face the grim reality of halting operations. This would have been the case for these 15 pre-schools if not for the timely intervention of RYTHM Foundation,” she said.
“The salary grant has enabled the pre-schools to continue operation and concentrate on providing quality education to the children who really need it because we believe that by laying the foundation for these children, we are able to uplift them from their current socio-economic level,” she added.
She said the PPIGM has also committed to take all measures needed to upskill themselves and to work with relevant stakeholders to continue running their pre-schools effectively. Last year, the Foundation launched the IMPACT (I Made a Pact to Change) initiative aimed at helping at-risk adolescent boys from disadvantaged families.
Under the programme, 25 boys are being trained with vocational skills in areas such as electrical wiring, maintenance, and other fundamental life skills that will enable them to transition into higher-paying jobs upon graduation.