PAPAR – “I know many of you have your own family to take care but you chose to come here! It is a sign of your care and concern for your mission kindergarten. It is also a sign that you are interested in the mission of the church in taking care of the young through early childhood education!”
With these words, Archbishop John Wong opened the first Archdiocesan Early Childhood Education Committee (AECEC) Conference for mission kindergarten Board of Governors and Head Teachers. The conference was held over two days on 17-18 June 2016 at the FSIC Centre for Spiritual Formation and Retreat, Pace Bene here.
The archbishop went on to emphasise that the age of 4 to 6 years old is the most critical stage of a child’s human development. He elaborated that what the child experiences at this tender age will shape what he or she will become.
He reminded the conference delegates that the core of the Vision and Mission of AECEC is faith formation of children in mission kindergartens guided by the five pillars of beliefs:
- Compassion for the poor and weak. Special attention and care to those suffering from any aspect of poverty: financial, moral, cultural, spiritual, cognitive, physical or emotional.
- Education that is person centered. Each child is a unique individual made in the image of God and endowed with distinctive character, aptitudes and abilities, and is worthy of love, respect and acceptance.
- Discipline with love.
- Prayer and the presence of God to encourage the child to live a God-fearing life.
- Work with passion and perseverance driven by the spirit of dedication and sacrifice.
About 90 members of the Board of Governors and Head Teachers from 26 mission kindergartens, as well as members of AEC/AECEC attended the conference. The presence of Fr Jalius Sading (AECEC Spiritual Director), Fr David Sham (Inanam parish priest overseeing five mission kindergartens) and Sr Rita Chew (Archdiocese Education Commission Head) was appreciated by the delegates as it was a clear indication of their commitment and support.
Drawing from the theme of “Sharing of Best Practices,” the conference covered topics of kindergarten management guidelines, accounting guidelines for kindergartens, service expectations as board members, staff training and roles and responsibilities of Head Teachers.
In his address, Fr Jalius cautioned the delegates as they give their service to the Lord “When we serve others, we are serving the Lord. Likewise, when we neglect others, we are neglecting the Lord. Be thankful always that you are given the chance to serve others. Be witnesses to God through our service to others”.
The conference concluded with the BOGs and HTs taking home plans of practices to adopt. – Ephraim Kouju