THE government has agreed to increase the allowance of volunteer community development assistants from RM500 to RM800, which will benefit 9,439 Community Development Department (KEMAS) staff, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced today.
Speaking in front of about 7,000 KEMAS members at the department’s 60th-anniversary celebration, the PM said the government also agreed to increase the subsistence allowance of Persatuan Bekas Anggota KEMAS Malaysia (PBKAM) members from RM300 to RM500.
Recalling his meeting with PBKAM when he was leading the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, now known as the Rural Development Ministry, Ismail said that the association had requested for a subsistence allowance, which was later approved at RM300 per month.
“In remembering the services of 4,423 PBAKM members, I agree to increase their subsistence allowance to RM500 per month,” he said in appreciating the contribution of KEMAS members in implementing various efforts to improve the quality of life in the rural community.
At the gathering, which was attended by Rural Development Minister Mahdzir Khalid, Ismail said the government also approved an allocation of RM8 million for the digitalisation programme of 800 KEMAS preschools.
In his speech, the prime minister said the government also agreed with some of the suggestions put forward by Mahdzir regarding improvements to the KEMAS service scheme, especially involving contract staff and District KEMAS Officers.
Among the suggestions made by Mahdzir in his speech earlier was to shorten the qualification period of contract officers for appointment to permanent posts from 15 years to 10 years, and to relax the conditions for contract officers who had served more than 10 years but less than 15 years to be appointed to permanent posts.
Also proposed was a two-grade promotional jump for Grade S19 Community Development Assistants to Grade S22 and S26, and restructuring the service scheme for KEMAS Tabika and Taska educators and Assistant Skills and Community Officers by providing promotion opportunities from Grade S29 to S32 and S38.
Ismail then instructed Public Service director-general Mohd Shafiq Abdullah, who was also present at the gathering, to take immediate action on the matter.
The prime minister said that being in the frontline, KEMAS members could be agents of change and act as the eyes and ears of the government.
Ismail said KEMAS needed to be active in gathering feedback on various issues from the community at the grassroots level and extending it to the top management and ministry, in addition to disseminating information related to government policies to rural communities.
“Right now, we can see many issues being twisted and slanders being made. If we let this pass without an answer or explanation, in the end, people will believe it is true.
“We must respond to them, and it is KEMAS’ responsibility to provide explanations to the people on issues that arise and convey information on policies announced by the government,” he added.
As agents of change, he said KEMAS members should equip themselves with knowledge and skills, especially in fields related to the department’s role and responsibilities.
Furthermore, he said KEMAS played an essential role in helping the country develop its human capital, especially in rural areas.
“Any party cannot deny the contributions and services of KEMAS. In fact, its role will continue to be strengthened by focusing on quality early childhood education that can produce a great generation,” he said.
KEMAS was established in 1961 through the Adult Education Plan, which aimed to eradicate illiteracy among nearly two million adults at that time.
According to Ismail Sabri, KEMAS was a pioneer in early childhood education through the establishment of Tabika in 1970 and Taska (nurseries) in 1995.
To date, KEMAS has 10,744 Tabika classes attended by 208,347 children and 545 Taska classes where 9,973 children are given quality early education, especially in rural areas, including islands and Orang Asli settlements.
He said KEMAS had also taken the initiative to introduce the STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) programme, which would be extended to all KEMAS Tabika across the country to nurture children’s interest in science and technology.
In the meantime, Ismail wanted the Rural Development Ministry to develop a clear, long-term plan to improve KEMAS Tabika buildings throughout the country.
“A lot of KEMAS Tabika are in poor condition, I know. There are tabika premises that rely on other buildings or balai raya. Many things need to change,” he said. – Bernama, August 28, 2022.