|Hoa Hong 2 Kindergarten, the first of its kind in northern Vinh Phuc Province, was built to receive the children of migrant workers in Khai Quang Industrial Zone in Vinh Yen City. — Photo baovinhphuc.com.vn
VINH PHUC (VNS) — Thousands of migrant workers in northern Vinh Phuc Province's industrial zones have had to send their children to their hometowns or to unlicensed pre-schools due to the lack of childcare facilities.
Nguyen Thi Hang, a female worker at Vina Korea JSC in Khai Quang Industrial Zone in Vinh Yen City, said she was forced to send her three-year-old back to her hometown in northern Phu Tho Province.
Hang said she had no choice as there were no available public kindergartens near her residence, while private schools charged at least VND1 million (US$45), which was quite high compared to her income.
She also had another child, aged about 18 months, and an aging mother-in-law to take care of.
Tran Hong Anh, another female worker, said she had quit her job as a shoemaker at the same industrial zone to stay at home and raise her child. Anh and her husband's combined monthly income, some VND3.5 million ($157) each, was not sufficient to pay for private pre-schools.
"We plan to send our child back to my hometown in Song Lo District to attend a local pre-school when she turns three," she said.
Currently, some 30,000 female labourers are working in industrial zones in the province, and 30 per cent of them are raising kindergarten-aged children.
Figures from the provincial Department of Education and Training show that there are 184 pre-schools in the province. Of these, only 11 pre-schools are located in industrial zones.
In Khai Quang Industrial Zone alone, some 4,000 children of local and migrant workers are old enough to attend pre-school, but only half of them go to school, mainly private ones, where the quality of teaching, nutrition and facilities are not strictly supervised.
Vu Thi Ngoc, head of the department's Pre-school Education Office, said Hoa Hong 2 Pre-school was the first in Khai Quang Industrial Zone to receive the children of migrant workers.
Ten other schools in the industrial zone must receive local children before they admit the children of migrant workers. Thus, many children still have no available schools to attend.
In other industrial zones such as Ba Thien and Ba Thien 2, there were three public schools and one private one, receiving only 1,000 children, aged two to five.
Ngoc said most of the migrant workers were facing a dilemma. They found it difficult to send their children to public schools, where they could afford the school fees, as they did not have a registered residence. The private schools did not require residential registration, but their fees amounted to some VND1-2.5 million ($45-$112). This was too high for parents who earned approximately VND3.5 million ($157), particularly when they had to meet other expenses including house rent.
Ngoc said the province had issued many supportive policies for migrant workers, such as the development of private childcare groups in industrial zones by 2020.
However, she admitted that these measures only resolved the situation temporarily. The demand for pre-schools for the children of workers is enormous, and the building of schools is urgent, she added. — VNS