The Community Development Department (KEMAS) is considering creating an elite version of its public kindergartens for families with higher financial capacity
According to Deputy Rural Development Minister I Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Mohamad, the elite kindergartens will be targeted at middle-income parents
"The elite tabika is proposed only for students whose parents have a high financial capacity because the fees are much higher than the existing KEMAS tabikas, which cost between RM5 and RM25 per month," he said after a talk in Alor Setar on Tuesday, 29 September.
"We are not forcing parents to send their children to the elite tabika because 10,900 normal tabikas are still operating, but the elite tabika will provide a better curriculum than the normal ones," he explained.
"If the Cabinet agrees, we will realise this project at certain locations specially for parents from middle-income households (M40)."
He also said that if the Cabinet approves the proposal, a tabika Act will also be brought to Parliament for debate.
However, some critics of the proposal have emerged, claiming that the elite kindergarten will contribute to an education gap between the rich and poor
Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh told Malaysiakini that the government should seek to improve the quality of early childhood education across all schools and not create a bigger divide among the children.
She also said calling the new tabikas "elite" was in itself discriminatory.
Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto also took to Twitter regarding the issue, saying, "It is not the government's duty to start elite tabikas for the affluent."
"The government should prepare policies to ensure the socio-economic gap is narrowed between all layers of the community," she wrote.
"For those who can afford it, there are facilities by private parties for the elite. KEMAS tabikas are under the government, not private."
Netizens have also joined in to criticise the idea
"So tired of fighting for the equality of education for all. Isn't this great, teaching children from young like this," said a Twitter user.
While another said, "So frustrated to read about the elite tabikas. Why should education be given based on social status?"
"Education is a basic human right and the best education should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their family income. Why do we need to create a gap between rich and poor?"
This netizen said, "Upgrade the tabika education system that is already there. Make sure no child gets left behind, regardless of their background. That's what you should do."