Ministry tightens childcare oversight

Update: February, 28/2014 - 08:41


HCM CITY (VNS) — The division of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, should co-operate more closely with the educational division at a grassroots level, to improve the management of home-stay nurseries, small baby-sitting groups and private kindergartens, according to the Child Care and Protection Department.

At a conference on the management of home-stayed nurseries and private kindergartens between the Ministry of Education and Training and its departments, held yesterday, Dang Hoa Nam, the department's deputy head, said that the division is fortunate to have such a large number of staff – both licensed and otherwise - working in childcare in their locality.

This workforce is aware of how many licensed home-stay nurseries, small baby-sitting groups and private kindergartens there and how many there are without licenses, Nam said. They work closely with children and families in the provinces and have a wealth of knowledge that they should share with educational staff to ensure the safety of children and prevent violence and abuse.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, head of the Family and Society Division under Viet Nam Women's Union, said that a survey conducted in 2012 in five cities showed there are a large proportion of families who use unlicensed childcare facilities, but according to Mai, they are difficult to manage.

Shutting down facilities without licenses is not easy, she said. Under normal circumstances, if they fail to meet the Ministry of Education and Training's standards on classroom size and the number of children in each classroom, they would be closed down, however the demand is so great, they feel this would be detrimental to families in the region.

Tran Thi Kim Thanh, from the HCM City Department of Education and Training, agreed. Because of the demand, the city has chosen not to close all unlicensed childcare businesses, Thanh said, adding that the only ones that have been shut down are those that were deemed unsafe. Instead, under the guidance of the city's authorities, they are issuing more licenses in a bid to improve childcare options for families in the area.

The result is that the number of facilities without license has reduced from 1,021 to 453 during the last two months, raising the city's number of licensed facilities to 1,490.

To further improve the situation, the city's People's Committee has requested that priority be given to investment in kindergarten facilities. Representatives from education departments in other southern provinces suggested that the ministry offer preferential policies on land, tariffs and loans for enterprises and individuals who want to invest in building kindergartens.

Nam also suggested that a policy that helps poorer parents in the urban areas with childcare should be issued.

Pham Thi Hue Trang, deputy head of the Department of Education and Training's Pre-school Education Division in Binh Duong Province, said that salaries and allowances for teachers at kindergartens and nurseries also should be adjusted.

This would help attract to students and graduates to the profession, Trang said.

The province has a history of shortages of teachers for pre-school education as well as kindergartens, she added. — VNS