Community daycare centres can reduce maid dependency

, National 2 minutes, 16 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Ministry of Home Affairs supports the idea of establishing community daycare centres that can offer more affordable rates to lower income groups.

“This is a good suggestion. The (ministry) will support it if this initiative can be carried out by mukim and village consultative councils,” Home Affairs Minister Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Othman said yesterday.

If the expertise needed to man these centres could not be met by locals, the minister said that the ministry was ready to endorse the recruitment of an “appropriate number” of “trustworthy” foreign teachers or carers.

Such centres should also provide job opportunities to locals, he added.

The suggestion for the community daycare services came from Legislative Council (LegCo) Member YB Hj Tahamit Hj Nudin, who proposed the businesses could come under the “One Village, One Product” campaign.

YB Hj Tahamit said that there were only a few daycare centres in the country, and the charges were not fixed.

“There are some (that charge) $25 and some $30 per child,” the LegCo member said during the morning half of yesterday’s discussions.

“Of course, not everyone can afford (the fees), especially those that have low incomes,” he said, calling for the fees should be regulated.

YB Hj Tahamit said that the proposed community centres can be opened in private homes or multi-purpose halls, where suitable, with the fee of $10 per child from 7am to 5pm.

“I believe the response from the public will be encouraging as not everyone can afford to hire a maid.”

Commenting on the issue in the afternoon session, the minister of Culture, Youth and Sports said there were three licensed daycare centres in the country, with 12 others currently in the process of obtaining their licences.

While there was no law to govern the rates charged by these centres, YB Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah shared that there was a legal provision for the centres to adhere to a ratio of caretakers to children.

For children between the age of two to 18 months, there must be one caretaker in charge of up to five children. For those between 18 to 30 months, the required ratio was one caretaker to eight children, and between 30 months to three years, one caretaker to 12 children.

Meanwhile, for children with disabilities, the requirement was one caretaker to four children regardless of their age, the minister explained.

Under the Childcare Centres Act 2006, the Community Development Centre was the licensing authority for daycare centres, for children under the age of three. The Department coordinated with other agencies such as district offices, health services and the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF).

The Brunei Times