PAITAN – Tucked away in the remote sub-district of Paitan are several pre-schools (or Tadika) that are run by the Franciscan Sisters of Immaculate Conception. There are eight in all.
These tadika are situated in Batangon, Dalamas, Koboituan, Lakang, Lubang Buaya, Rakanan, Sulit and Tawanan – villages so remote that one probably would be hearing of them for the first time.
The first FSIC-operated tadika started at Dalamas some 11 years ago, and the others followed in quick succession. The eighth was started in Koboituan earlier this year.
All the tadika are recognised by the ministry of education and have the necessary permits with the exception of Koboituan which is a temporary facility pending the building of a permanent tadika there.
Said Sister Dorothy Laudi, who heads the FSIC Paitan tadika mission: “Our pre-schools are professionally run despite the limited resources that we have, and none of the children are charged any fee.
“We do the best we can with funds and food supplies contributed by members of the public and or supporters throughout Sabah.”
Most of the teachers at these tadika are volunteers and come from as far as Tambunan and Keningau to help out. Others are from Kinarut, Kota Marudu and Paitan itself.
The teachers are provided with meagre housing as well as food and receive a small salary.
However, eight of them are currently in their final months of undergoing their Diploma in Early Childhood Education (DECE), a pre-requisite of the Education Ministry for all tadika.
“Then their salaries will have to follow the government recommendations,” said Sister Dorothy, adding that more teachers are undergoing the DECE this year.
With word of the tadika operations reaching the ears of Asian Supply Base Chief Executive Officer, Dato’ Harris Haji Annuar Tan, a small delegation of staff from Labuan visited Sulit recently to see for themselves the conditions of the tadika and to lend a helping hand via their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme.
Led by Madam Alice Wong, Head – Infrastructure Development, the group proceeded with a seven-hour drive to reach their destination, armed with goodies and a lot of anticipation.
The group was met upon arrival by Sister Dorothy, Sister Hillary and some of the teachers, as well as several tadika students and other boys and girls of primary-school age.
After a kampong-style lunch, the ASB group was treated to songs sung by the children.
Said Alice: “We are happy that the tadika is well managed despite being located in a rather remote area and that there are people willing to help give our children a pre-school education.
“We hope to be able to do more in the future, as helping children out in education is very important.”
Sulit consists of both Christians and Muslim villagers whose main occupation are as fishermen while others work in the oil palm estates. Some are smallholders themselves, but most of the people who live here are considered poor.
Those who wish to know more about the FSIC Paitan tadika mission and would like to lend a helping hand can contact Sister Dorothy @ 013 547 7525 or Colin @ 012 815 1225.