Parents have reiterated the need for “affordable” nurseries in the country even as they welcomed the authorities’ tough stance on such facilities that run without licences.
This comes in the wake of a notice issued by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, which warns of legal action against those who operate such facilities without the due permits. The notice was published in the local media yesterday.
Asked for their views on the matter, some parents argued that most of the existing nurseries were beyond their reach and this prevented many expatriate families from earning a double income as they did not have any place where they could keep their children during working hours.
“Alternatively, some families, where both parents work but who cannot afford to send their kids to a full-fledged nursery, send their children to people they know personally as the cost involved is relatively low. It is possible that these people are running a facility similar to a nursery but without the necessary permits,” said one of them.
Agreeing that the government stance would pave the way for better care for children and help stop the spread of illegal nurseries in the country, a parent said: “These establishments lack most of the facilities needed for children but they are economical and can be afforded by most people. At the same time, fees at most of the existing nurseries are too high - which many people cannot afford here. This is the real problem and the authorities concerned should find a way to solve it.”
Meanwhile, officials from nurseries and daycare centres welcomed the authorities’ move, saying it would lead to the provision of quality care for infants in the country. They stressed that the unlicensed nurseries did not provide many of the basic amenities required for children.
“We have spent a lot of money establishing a daycare centre, providing all necessary facilities for children. But many others offer daycare services without these facilities. However, many people still go to them as their fees are comparatively lower than ours. The government move will help stop such practices,” a nursery manager said.
Another expatriate said the possibility of legal action should act as a strong deterrent for those providing unlicensed daycare facilities as any shortcoming on their part could have serious consequences. At the same time, he stressed that all children should be able to benefit from the activities carried out at nurseries as these could play a key role in a child’s overall development.
In its notice yesterday, the ministry cited provisions mentioned in laws issued in 2014 and 2004. The directive was issued in view of the health and safety risks for children that might result from the practice of running unlicensed nurseries.
All those who do not abide by the rules - as well as their subordinates and employees - will be liable to legal prosecution as stipulated in Law No 1 of 2014 regulating nursery schools or the Penal Code issued in Law No 11 of 2004 and its amendments, according to the ministry notice.
It could be recalled that after the Villaggio fire in 2012, a committee had made 11 recommendations that included certain provisions on governing childcare facilities.
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