HCM CITY — Nguyen Thi Mo was a worker at an industrial park in HCM City – until she quit her job.
|Apartment buildings for workers in HCM City's Tan Binh Industrial Zone. The city meets only 10 per cent of the demand. By 2012, more land will be allocated in export processing zones and industrial parks in an attempt to bridge the shortfall. — VNA/VNS Photo Van Khanh
It wasn't something the central Binh Dinh Province native wanted to do; she needs the money.
But she could not find a reputable and safe place to take care of her one-year son near her home in Thu Duc District's Linh Trung Ward.
Because Mo is a resident in another province, she did not have a residential book or temporary residential certificate called KT3 that would allow her son to enrol in a public nursery.
Private daycare is too expensive, and cheaper family-owned nurseries are unreliable. They have a poor reputation, due to reports in the media about physical abuse or neglect by the caretakers.
With around 300,000 workers in 14 export-processing and industrial zones and 65 per cent of them from other provinces, the need for daycare and pre-school facilities for the children of workers has been increasing.
Moreover, there is a housing shortage.
Ninety per cent of workers rent rooms in residential areas near industrial parks, according to the Viet Nam General Labour Confederation.
The average living area, which is two to three square metres for each worker, is often unsafe and unclean.
Moreover, the owners charge them high electricity and water prices.
The city has 15 apartment buildings for workers located in seven export-processing and industrial zones, but these meet only 10 per cent of the demand.
Do Thi Thu Hien, deputy chairwoman of the People's Committee of Linh Trung Ward, said that nearly 36,000 workers and about 1,500 children of preschool age, including those of workers, live in the ward.
The ward has only one public and four private daycare facilities (which take children from six months old to kindergarten age), and 21 family-owned nurseries.
Last year, Hien and several of her colleagues sent data to industrial park authorities on the number of children who needed daycare and urged them to build facilities for these children. But nothing has been done.
In more than three wards near the Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in District 7, more than 1,500 children are of pre-school age, according to Nguyen Tan Dinh, deputy head of the HCM City Export Processing and Industrial Zone Authority (HEPZA).
The ward has only one public and three private pre-school facilities, which does not meet demand.
This need will become especially acute as the workforce in industrial parks is expected to expand in the future.
HEPZA forecasts that the city will have more than 500,000 workers in export processing and industrial zones by 2020.
Building apartments and pre-school facilities for workers in these zones is urgent but two main obstacles are land and capital.
The city has outlined a plan through 2020 on pre-school facilities in export-processing and industrial zones, but only one structure has been built.
Thi Thi Tuyet Nhung, deputy head of the city's Cultural and Social Affairs Committee under the People's Council, urged district authorities to build more pre-school facilities to accommodate children in industrial parks and use their State-allocated funds.
Ngo Xuan Dong, head of District 7's educational and training division, suggested that the city allocate more land in export-processing and industrial parks for districts to build these facilities.
The city plans to 2020 calls for allocation of land in export-processing zones, including 3,000 square metres in the Linh Trung Export Processing Zone No.1 and 1,100 square metres in Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in District 7, as well as other zones.
But only one pre-scool facility nursery has been built. On August 31, the Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park opened a nursery which admitted 150 children of workers.
The city said it would give construction priority until 2015 to kindergartens for five-year-old children.
According to Dinh, children of poor workers will receive subsidised lunch money.
In addition, more land will be allocated in export processing zones and industrial parks to build apartments for workers by 2015.
More than 92,240 rooms for workers are expected to be built by 2015. — VNS