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KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 (Bernama) — Preschool education needs a shift to ensure it remain relevant and able to cater to the development needs of a child as well as that of the people and country, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

Preschool education should be futuristic in line with the country’s aspiration to create a learned society that was resilient and disciplined, and one which stayed true to its faith and national identity, in line with the 1Malaysia spirit, he said.

“We can translate this vision through a holistic and futuristic preschool education system which is not too academic-centric,” he said when opening the 2010 National Preschool Education Conference here Thursday.

The four-day event, which focuses on finding the best practice in the implementation of national preschool curriculum, was attended by the ministry’s Secretary-General Tan Sri Dr Zulkurnain Awang, Education Director-General Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom and Deputy Education Director Datuk Noor Rezan Baboo Hashim.

Muhyiddin, who is the Education Minister, said preschool teachers should also be trained to provide a fun-learning environment in school.

“Preschool teachers play an important role because they are the first to formally teach our children.

“They should be able to imbibe a strong foundation to ensure these children can be successful in education,” he said.

Muhyiddin said that up till end of May, preschool enrolment had increased to 70.4 per cent from 67 per cent previously.

“I’m confident that with the commitment shown by all, the target of achieving 72 per cent in preschool enrolment this year can be achieved,” he said.

He also noted that more unregistered preschools showing interest to register with the government.

Meanwhile, speaking at the Education Ministry’s Excellent Service Awards in Putrajaya, Muhyiddin said the ministry was taking steps to enhance the country’s education including reviewing the schooling system, carrying out restructuring at the ministry’s level and enhancing the qualities of teachers and school administrators.

“I am banking on all of you, the staff of the ministry, to give your highest commitment to realise the country’s education development programme,” he said.

Muhyiddin said that the government’s various initiatives such as the 1Malaysia vision, Government Transformation Programme, New Economic Model and the 10th Malaysia Plan, provided the ministry with huge challenges.

“To carry out all these initiatives, civil servants, particularly the staff of the ministry, should offer creative and innovative ideas to strengthen the ministry’s delivery system,” he said.