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Govt Paid Lip Service Regarding Child-care Policies?

Posted June. 15, 2003 22:01,   


Three government agencies told a joint press conference a year ago about their ‘sweeping’ child-care policies and implementation schedules in detail.

The policy focused on mainly three fronts: the introduction of a system in which a baby-sitter takes care of three kids at home; the autonomous decision of the local governments on the limit of the child-care fees paid by parents; and the support for special child-care facilities operating for 24 hours everyday.

Of the 19 specific policies, however, ten are in place now, including the expanded subsidy for those in the lower income bracket and the increased aid to companies with their own child-care facilities.

They’ve halted pushing for the introduction of a system in which a baby-sitter takes care of three kids at home and the autonomous decision on the limit of the child-care fees because the care system is not ready to be implemented and it is thought apparently premature that the local governments decide the limit of the child-care fees.

Women opposed these systems saying, “They gave up their responsibility for child-care by leaving it to the private sector.” In addition, day care centers objected to the idea that a baby-sitter takes care of kids at home since it would result in tougher competition in the market.

Some policies, such as activating a system in which parents organize an association to run a child-care center, providing official certification to nursery teachers, and evaluating and certifying daycare centers, are only submitted to the National Assembly.

Last year, the government decided to set up special child-care facilities operating for 24 hours everyday near industrial complexes and hospitals of a three-shift system. Moreover, it established or amended guidelines for small-sized child-care centers with 5 kids or less.

The government, however, only raised the salaries of nursery teachers by 7% and has not paid overtime allowances for those working in the special child-care facilities.

“No one wants to work at night and on weekend with the same amount of salaries,” said an official of the Education Center for Nursery Teacher.

In addition, the establishment of small-sized daycare centers was unrealized.

“The interpretations of related laws are different since social workers change too often and they have to take care of other works not to mention the child care,” said the Education Center for Nursery Teacher. “Under this situation, if the Ministry of Gender Equality deals with child care instead of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, confusion will become more serious,” it said.

Regarding this, the government promised that it would station public officials who deal with child-care issues in the local governments apart from social workers. However, it failed to keep the pledge and became the target of criticism.

“Since one teacher can take care of maximum five infants aged 0 to 2, the child-care centers cannot make the ends meet compared with those taking care of the babies aged over three,” said the association. It said that the government should provide more subsidies for the salaries of nursery teachers. However, the government has been ignoring this, it criticized.

Jin Lee leej@donga.com