Alarm over unregistered kindergartens

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Windhoek

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has noted with concern the mushrooming of early childhood development centres, also commonly known as day cares.

Even though there are no statistics on day cares operating illegally in the country the number of unregulated facilities is alarmingly on the increase.

Charlie Matengu the spokesperson of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare said the ministry is concerned about the safety and security of children at these centres.

Recently an unregistered day care in Academia, Windhoek was ordered by court to shut down after an 11-month-old todler died at the facility.

It is alleged that the owner of the day care Catharina van der Berg wrongfully and negligently caused the death of the child while he was in her care at her unregistered day care. Van der Berg appeared in court this year on charges of culpable homicide and operating an unregistered day care. The todler died on November 20, 2012.

Matengu said that even though many day cares are operating illegally, the child welfare ministry has not closed down any early childhood development centres as it appears to have no statutory teeth to do so.

But even though the ministry does not shut down unregistered day cares it follows a strategy of cooperating and partnering with edu-carers for the benefit of children.

However, Matengu emphasized that just because the ministry does not fine or shut down illegal day care centres does not mean it condones the mushrooming of these unregistered facilities.

“We advise the operators to adjust and change wherever we feel the lives of children are being compromised,” explained Matengu.

He said that sometimes a centre is the only one in the community but the ministry is forced to ensure the environment conforms to set standards.

The child welfare ministry says edu-carers should be able to provide safe, loving and stimulating places for children to learn through play, routine and organized activities.

“Our staff go around visiting the centres and helping them to conform to the set requirements,” said Matengu, who added that the ministry has launched an early childhood development (ECD) programme through which it disseminates information to parents and service providers to raise awareness on ECD centres.

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