SINGAPORE: The Malaysian economy is about to feel the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the country’s top statistician.
After posting its slowest growth since the global financial crisis, the economy is set to slip into a recession in the next four to six months, according to a report by Mohd Uzir Mahidin, the chief statistician.
With its borders shut to foreigners and a standstill in commerce around the world, industries including tourism and aviation have been crippled, adding uncertainty to a rebound in trade in the first quarter.
The expected decline comes as the country’s gross domestic product grew marginally at 0.7% in the first three months of the year, the lowest since the third quarter of 2009, he said.
That growth rate is significantly less than the 3.9% to 4.2% expansion expected, with losses of RM22.8 billion (US$5.3 billion) in economic output because of a countrywide lockdown, he said.
Countries across the world began the “Great Lockdown” in March.
“From the early indications in April and May 2020, the economic environment is foreseen to be unfavourable for Malaysian businesses,” according to the report, entitled the Malaysian Economic Statistics Review.
With the global lockdown, “this unprecedented situation has caused a sharp contraction to the economy like never before.”
Comment: Is your job secured in this coming recession? This time around, things are a bit different. Even traditionally recession-proof career like early childhood educator might be at risk, due to the lockdown. Otherwise, it is relatively recession-proof. You should consider either upskilling or reskilling if your current skills are going to be less relevant or totally obsolete post-MCO/CMCO.
Among the skills that I highly recommend is to brush up your digital marketing skills as digitalisation is a must in the new norm. And if you really hate to deal with screen and IT-related kinds of stuff, here are some other options:
– Accounting course if you love numbers – Industrial automation if you like robotics & machinery (great prospect especially in the glove manufacturing industry during this pandemic) Baking & Culinary if you like baking & cooking (Just like early childhood industry, F&B industry may look bleak in this year or until a vaccine for Covid-19 is found).
There are many other TVET courses that lead to jobs/careers that are not only recession-proof but also in high demand.
So, what is your interest? What course would you like to study? If you’re unsure or know what you want to study but don’t know where, just state your interest here.
We believe that early childhood education course (ECE) or also known as early childhood and care education (ECCE) (Pengasuhan dan Pendidikan Awak Kanak-kanak – T982-001-3:2017) & Preschool Teaching (Pendidikan Pra Sekolah – ET-012-3:2012) is a good choice, as a recession-proof career or business.
There is always a need
In a good economy, people send their children to preschool and early childhood education centre because they have some disposable income and have a need for child care and be educated, regardless of whether or not they’re a dual-income family. Conversely, if the economy is in a downturn, families that may not have been dual-income earners may suddenly need full-time child care due to a parent returning to the workforce. So the bottom line is, there is always a need.
The ability to grow regardless of the state of the economy
Not only is early childhood education and care a recession-proof business, but it also offers excellent growth opportunities. If you work hard to be found by parents searching for exceptional early childhood education and care, and give them a reason to entrust you with their children, then you will always be successful.
Early childhood care and education (ECCE)
In Malaysia, it is divided into two age groups, which is 0-4 years and 4-6 years old.
The first group (0-4 years), comes under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (MWFCD) which coordinates national programmes on the growth and development of children. Through its Department of Social Welfare, MWFCD keeps a register of all childcare centres (also known as taska) in the country.
Pre-school education for the second group (4-6 years) comes under three ministries/agencies, i.e. the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, and the National Unity Department.
The Malaysian government places a strong emphasis on early childhood care and education (ECCE) and has formulated the National Policy for Early Childhood Education. Under this policy, programs have been introduced to meet the diverse needs of the crucial early years of newborns until the age of six. These programmes provide a solid foundation for healthy growth and development which expose them to activities in nation-building and enhance their readiness for primary school education. The government’s involvement in early childhood care and education (ECCE) is evident from its numerous initiatives to make early childhood programmes more accessible especially for less fortunate children and those in rural areas. A significant amount of funds is also allocated for early childhood care and education (ECCE) every year.
Types of early childhood education and care Institutions
ECCE programmes in Malaysia are offered by two types of institutions, namely:
Childcare centres or nurseries or taska
Preschools or kindergartens or tadika
(A) Childcare Centres or Nurseries (Taska)
Childcare Centre Act 1984 has been reviewed and passed by the Parliament giving rise to the Childcare Centres (Amendment) Act 2007. Government-supported community childcare centres, subsidised workplace childcare centres and Quality Improvement Accreditation System (QIAS) have also being implemented.
In Malaysia, a legislative-approved childcare centre is defined as a premise at which four or more children under the age of four years from more than one household are received to be looked after for reward.
Childcare centres in Malaysia fall into four categories:
Government-owned childcare centres (Taska dalam komuniti since 2006)
Workplace childcare centres
Institution-based childcare centres with 10 children or more
Home-based childcare centres with fewer than 10 children
Under the law, all childcare centres need to be registered with the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) or more popularly known as Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat Malaysia (JKM) under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (MWFCD). MWFCD is responsible for the approval and establishment of childcare centres in the country whilst JKM serves as the main regulator and coordinator of ECCE programmes.
In the plantation sector, childcare centres are provided free under the Standard Act, Minimum Housing and Workers Facilitation 1990 and monitored by the Ministry of Human Resources.
Categories of Childcare Centres
Workplace Childcare Centres With more and more women are engaged in active employment, MWFCD has been promoting the setting up of childcare at the workplace. For example, the government provides incentives in the form of a RM80,000 grant for the renovation and furnishing of childcare centres set up within government offices. Also, to encourage working mothers to utilise these centres, a subsidy of RM180 per month is given to government servants with monthly salaries below RM2000 who send their children to these centres.
MWFCD also encourages the private sector to provide childcare facilities at the workplace for their employees. Incentives include 10% tax exemption on the cost of building the childcare centres for a period of 10 years.
Community Childcare Centres MWFCD has been setting up community childcare centres in urban and rural areas with the objective of providing quality childcare services that is more accessible and affordable to the local community. It aims to set up 10 new community childcare centres throughout the country every year. The centres use a curriculum set by MWFCD and is based on the active participation of the local community, parents, children, governmental agencies as well as private organisations. MWFCD has also proposed that every parliamentary area set up a community childcare centre.
Families who send their children to community childcare centres would receive a monthly subsidy of RM180 per child if the family’s income is below RM2000 or RM1200 in urban and rural areas respectively. A grant of RM55,000 will also be given to those interested in setting up a community childcare centre.
Permata Negara Early Childhood Education and Care Centres The Permata Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) programme was initiated by YABhg. Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor and was introduced after it was approved by the Cabinet on 21 June 2006 with a grant of RM20 million. Themed ‘Every Child a Jewel’ (Setiap Anak Permata), the Permata Negara pilot project was launched at 14 locations in 2006, with at least one in each state- with the curriculum and teacher training spearheaded by Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris.
(B) Pre-schools or Kindergartens (Tadika) for children aged 4 to 6
Early childhood education for children aged 4-6 years comes under three ministries, i.e. the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development; and the Department of National Unity. The pioneer in the setting up of preschools is the Ministry of Rural Development which began in the early 1970’s. There are currently 8307 preschools set up by this ministry which are commonly known as the KEMAS preschool. KEMAS preschools are located in rural or suburban areas and are set up based on requests by local authorities.
Under the Department of National Unity, PERPADUAN preschools were established in urban areas where ‘Rukun Tetangga’ (a friendly neighbourhood scheme) existed. At present, there are 1496 PERPADUAN preschools. In 1992, the Ministry of Education (MOE) started setting up preschools as an annex to existing primary schools through a pilot project. This was extended to the entire nation in 1993 and currently, there are about 5905 of such preschools. Other providers of preschool education include also the State Religious Department and ABIM (Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia).
Table 1.1 : The Three Main Types of Public Preschools in Malaysia (as at 2007)