(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The Ministry of Social Affairs, intensifying raids on nursery schools, issued 126 warning letters to 71 kindergartens in 2013. A senior official said the increase is basically due to the stringent inspection strategy adopted by the ministry to curb violations and ensure children's protection, apart from the new nurseries registered.
Moza Salem Al Shoomi, Director of Child Department, Ministry of Social Affairs, on Monday told Khaleej Times that they paid 364 visits to 350 nurseries across the country last year.
"As many as 295 kindergartens met the set conditions and had their licenses renewed while the licenses of 17 others were cancelled for failing to observe the rules." She added that only 88 of the 229 applications submitted for opening new nursery schools were given the nod. "These included 80 private and eight government kindergartens. It is not an easy job to open a nursery school; the Ministry is fully dedicated to provide a safe and proper training environment for children as per the latest international standards," she underscored.
Indicating that erring nurseries have been given a grace period to amend their positions, Shoomi said those found flouting rules are given first warning, then second, and finally suffer closure.
"Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labour imposes fines on each and every delay to renew the nursery licence; first Dh2,000, then Dh5,000, and closure in the end." Shoomi said the ministry does not want to hamper the work of nurseries.
"Conversely, cutting warning letters is a strategic goal since 2011. We mainly want to protect children." Al Shoomi said most of the registered violations in 2013 were spotted at nurseries in Dubai where 45 warning letters were issued.
"These are against 20 in Abu Dhabi, 16 in Fujairah, 15 in Sharjah, 14 in Ajman, nine in Ras Al Khaimah, and seven in Al Ain." Enrolling children above the set age topped the list of violations recorded in the 71 erring nurseries with 19 cases, of which 12 were nabbed in Dubai.
"Thirty warning notices were issued for some nurseries' failure to hire a nurse and for not protecting children against physical harm as due," she said.
The list of violations recorded at the nursery schools across the country include absence of manager, unapproved fee hike, improper maintenance, press advertising, as well as lack of toys, playgrounds, beds, empty spaces, clinics, medical records, employees, supervisors, and sunshades.
"Also some nurseries failed to distribute children according to age, while a few others let men enter the kindergarten, did not show enough cooperation in terms of statistics and had staff working without labour cards.
Al Shoomi said the child department received 28 complaints last year, of which 14 were registered in Dubai.
"Most of the complaints, exactly four were about fee refund." Some of the other complaints lodged were about corporal punishment, expulsion of children for not paying fees, unreasonable fee hike, failing to recruit enough or qualified staff, receiving above age children, and lack of hygiene.