Nurseries warned not to flout law

DUBAI — Nurseries have been asked to abide by the law which prohibits them from offering kindergarten classes.

By Eman Al Baik

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Published: Tue 12 Jul 2005, 10:42 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:42 PM

They have been given a grace period vide a circular issued yesterday, allowing them to comply with this decision by September 2006, according to a official of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Moza Saif Al Amri, from the the Ministry’s Family and Child Department said: “More than 95 per cent of the 120 nurseries operating in the country are offering Kindergarten classes (KG). This is in violation of the Federal Nurseries Law which completely prohibits them from offering educational courses.”

“These nurseries have exploited the rules that govern the age limit specified for admission of children in nurseries and KG 1 level,” she said, adding: “The law applicable to the nurseries allows this ‘service’ institution to admit children who are one-year old. The maximum age fixed is four years.”

The admission rule of the ministry of education to KG 1 requires that the child should have completed three and a half years in September. There is an overlaping of six months duration during which a child can continue enrollment in a nursery and is permitted for KG I. Accordingly, nurseries opt to offer educational classes taking benefit of this overlapping phase but this violates the law applicable to the nurseries,” she elaborated.

Giving a warning to the parents, Al Amri said: “Being governed by the Nurseries Law, which prohibits nurseries from offering educational classes and as these institutions also fall under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, nurseries cannot undertake KG I enrollment of ‘such’ children. Some nurseries have named this service as preparation or foundational classes.”

Apart from violation of the law, these nurseries are deceiving parents who are unaware of the fact that nurseries are not authorised to offer classes or offer KG 1 completetion certificate nor are children or their ward allowed to obtain a certificate on the completion of KG I for their children, she stressed. Nurseries’ deceptive methods have exceeded to a level which misleads the parents and affects the child by way of loss of his one year, she said.

“As a result of such violation, parents have complained to the ministry that they have been facing problems when the their child, who has finished KG I classes with a nursery institution, cannot be enrolled in KG II at schools and that they cannot obtain a certificate from the nursery on the completion of their child to KG 1 class. Parents have no documented evidence about their claim. Their child, whose educational level do not meet KG I standard, are made to repeat KG 1 when enrolled in an appropriate school,” she noted, calling on parents to have their children enrolled in proper schools for the KG I level and not to avoid wasting one precious academic year.

Moreover, offering KG I classes is a good business for the nurseries. “Parents are charged similar fees,” she said, adding: “Usually, fees charged by nurseries for taking care of children are lesser than that of schools.”

“The department which is drafting amendments to the nurseries law will reduce the maximum age limit of a child at nurseries down to a three and a half years to mitigate the currently existing age lapping with the Education Ministry’s rules,” she pointed out.

According to Al Amri, the currently enforced nurseries law stipulates issuance of a warning to the violator to set right the offence within 15 days. A second warning, with one week grace period, to correct the status is issued in case of their failure to comply with the first warning. If a nursery repeats the violation, a one month or a final closure of the institution could be the the penalty. These penalties were proved insufficient to prevent offences especially with the shortage of inspection visits and inappropriate control. Penalties should be stiff enough to prevent violations. The department has proposed it in the draft amendment imposing fines. Numbers and magnitude of violations committed by nurseries would become limited, if not completely eliminated, when the owners were asked to pay fines for such.

However, she said, there are only five employees at the ministry’s different offices — three in Dubai and one each in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. The staff in Dubai are supposed to cover nurseries in Dubai, and the Northern Emirates including Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, she added.

“It is impossible for these three offices to carry out adequate inspection visits and check the performance and practices of nurseries in such a big area,” she said, adding: “A separate wing for inspection is also needed.”

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