Unlicensed and unregulated home nurseries will not be tolerated by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) and such centres will be dealt with strictly according to the law.
The ongoing awareness campaign "Eyalak Amana" (Your Children are Precious), launched by MADLSA last month, to combat the spread of such nurseries has been actively instructing people on the risks involved in sending kids to 'illegal' nurseries as they are operating outside the law and could not be monitored by the authorities concerned.
Bothina al-Mohannadi, senior inspector of nurseries, pointed out that MADLSA officials normally have no access to such illegal home nurseries, as they operate outside the law. However, she stressed that when any report of such centre is received by the MADLSA, it is referred to the authorities concerned and the security department at the Ministry of Interior handles the issue by conducting proper investigations and taking all necessary action.
Al-Mohannadi pointed out that the awareness campaign, which now reaches more people in the country through the various means of the media including the social media , has made positive results in achieving the desired targets.
"The campaign aims to stress the fact that the unlicensed nurseries cannot be trusted with kids as they normally are not equipped or prepared to handle this vocation and there is no mechanism to ensure that the children are safe and well-taken care of ," she said.
In the meantime, she pointed out that MADLSA inspectors pay at least one surprise visit a month to every licensed nursery in the country, where all the features of safety, security and health of the kids are checked, besides the other necessary regulatory and administrative issues. Minor administrative and paperwork violations are sometimes seen during such visits, where the inspector gives notice to correct the situation.
These legal nurseries are supposed to conduct an evacuation drill for the kids at least once a month to enhance the safety of the children.
According to Law No.1 for 2014 regulating the activities of nursery schools , and MADLSA regulations in this regard, each nursery should be operating from a separate stand-alone and dedicated building approved by the Civil Defence, the Traffic Department and other entities concerned based on its compliance with certain safety and security standards. Surveillance cameras are often installed in classrooms and parents have the right to monitor the well-being of their children. Such features are often lacking in unregulated and illegal nurseries as they are often run from homes with no qualified or trained staff.
Al-Mohannadi said that nursery inspectors at MADLSA are keen to ensure that children are in safe hands. Among the main conditions for running a nursery are employment of qualified nannies and teachers in proportion to the number of children , besides a full-time licensed nurse and a visiting physician, who conducts health checks of the children once a month. Also, the nursery should maintain a health file for every kid.
Currently, there are 191 licensed nurseries across the country and the MADLSA encourages the private sector to open more in the external areas. There are two nurseries at Al Shehaniyah and Al Ruwais.
It has been learnt that the awareness campaign has encouraged an increasing number parents to avoid unlicensed home nurseries .