In early childhood education (ECE), the quality of teachers is often seen as key for educational excellence. Be it stand-alone preschools, education groups or franchises, all ECE institutions have become committed to investing in their teaching staff. In addition, this industry is a growing one, with high demand and excellent career prospects, thus making ECE programmes a popular option for budding childcare professionals.
At OUM, ECE is offered at three levels: diploma, bachelor’s and master’s. These programmes are specially designed for principals, administrators, teachers, caretakers, childminders and those involved with young learners. All three programmes ensure that ECE practitioners have the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes involved in child development and assessment, curricular content, arts and music, learning and pedagogy, health and safety, as well as administrative and management skills.
In addition to a well-rounded curriculum, one of the best advantages of the ECE programmes at OUM is the simulation lab.
Equipped with up-to-date facilities for both learners and educators, simulation labs are a requirement set by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) for all private institutions offering ECE programmes.
According to Mahani Abdul Malik, programme director for the Diploma in ECE programme (DECE), these labs are meant to replicate aspects of the real world in an interactive and immersive manner. The labs also offer several hands-on opportunities to promote the knowledge and skills of ECE learners who work with young children from birth up to the age of six.
“Assisted and observed by experts, the labs serve as a physical environment to expose learners and provide them with a real experience with regards to the handling of children,” she explains.
Mahani is also involved in observing and supervising lab sessions. With 26 years in this field, she has taught ECE locally and was involved in an early childhood project with University of Southern Queensland, Australia, and has experience teaching children between the ages of two and 12.
“At OUM, we have set up simulation labs at 10 different learning centres throughout the country, including Shah Alam, Kota Bharu, Alor Setar, Johor Bahru, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. All 10 labs are fully equipped with preschool equipment such as tables, baby cots, learning equipment, Baby Anne CPR training manikins, and others.
“They are meant to give learners the opportunity to practise teaching in a simulated classroom setting before they begin practising in real life. The lab is a crucial part of ECE programmes as it gives learners the opportunity to practise, teach and learn in a simulated classroom setting. This is especially important for those who have not had any experience or training in teaching,” says Mahani, who is also a member of the Early Childhood Care and Education Council Malaysia and MQA board of panels.
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