By Ayman Adly Staff Reporter
The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) launched "Eyalak Amana" (Your Children are Precious) campaign on Sunday to raise public awareness about the risks and dangers of entrusting children to unlicensed nurseries.
The three-month initiative, which runs until December 1, is part of MADLSA's efforts to combat the spread of unlicensed nurseries, which often operate in houses without any proper equipment and lacking the necessary standards for a proper nursery that provide a healthy and safe environment for children.
Officials have noticed recently that there are many advertisements of unlicensed home nurseries in different media, especially on social media.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the launch of the campaign, Najat Daham al-Abdullah, director of the Family Affairs Department at MADLSA, stressed the keenness of the government on the wellbeing of children and the importance of providing them with all the necessary services, with focus on their safety, development and health.
Accordingly, His Highness the Amir issued Law No 1 for 2014 regulating the activities of nursery schools. The law aims to protect children from the age of two months until four years.
Besides, the licensed and authorised nurseries are subject to tight control and are closely monitored by MADLSA to ensure that they provide children with the adequate safe and healthy environment for their growth and development.
According to the law, the standards that must be followed by these nurseries give parents the confidence that their children are in safe hands and can be monitored closely in case of the need to do so.
Al-Abdullah pointed out that there currently 189 licensed nurseries across the country with more to come as there are already a good number of applications to open new nurseries.
She said that MADLSA has many female inspectors with law enforcement authority to conduct monthly inspections on nurseries to ensure compliance and that all the workers are qualified according the stipulations of the law.
All staff members at the nurseries should be females. There could be a visiting male physician and security guards when necessary.
"For administrative violations such as some missing documentation or paperwork, nurseries are given a grace period of 3-4 days to complete them. However, when it comes to the safety and wellbeing of kids, nurseries will be given immediate warning to remove such violations, followed shortly by another, then a fine of QR10,000 to be deducted from the security sum deposited by the nursery at MADLSA. In case of severe violations of this type, the nursery would be closed for three months until the violation is removed," said al-Abdullah.
She pointed out that the law does not give MADLSA control over the fees of licensed nurseries but this could be controlled through the consumer protection regulations, as the fees of each nursery vary according to the services provided.
Abdulaziz Rashid al-Kubaisi, director of MADLSA Public Relations and Communication Department, stressed the need of active community participation to combat the spread of unlicensed home-operated nurseries and avoid entrusting their children at such establishments.
He said that the campaign will be conducted in co-operation with the entities concerned, which conducts the necessary investigation, adhering to the relevant legal procedures.
Ali Malhyah, senior legal specialist at MADLSA, talked about the negative implications of unregulated nurseries. According to Article No 20 of Law No 1 for 2014, violating the purpose of the licence or practicing activities other than those given in the licence entails a maximum jail term of two years and a maximum fine of QR100,000 or any of the two penalties.
Ibrahim Ali al-Khajah, social programmes co-ordinator at MADLSA, said that some violating nurseries have been already closed in co-operation with the authorities concerned. He expected that the campaign would further enhance children's safety in the country and make parents avoid dealing with any of unregulated nurseries.
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