Private daycare centers need to be regulated more strictly to complement plans to increase the number of public and non-profit daycare centers, an educational union said yesterday, criticizing the Ministry of Education for not requiring schools to meet educational quality and labor standards before giving them subsidies.
“It appears that the ministry’s objective stops at providing parents with cheaper places to send their children for daycare,” National Federation of Teachers’ Unions president Chang Hsu-cheng (張旭政) said. “The ministry does not have any plans about the quality of education; it is just concerned about increasing the supply.”
The ministry’s plan calls for spending NT$6 billion (US$198 million) to establish 1,000 public and non-profit daycare centers.
Local governments have been reluctant to establish the centers and the non-profit sector lacks the capacity to establish a large number of daycare centers, making government cooperation with for-profit daycare centers a possibility, Chang said
“The government has been trying for years, but only 50 non-profit daycare centers have been established across the nation. Where are the non-profit organizations needed to meet the government’s goals supposed to come from?” he said. “We suspect that the result will be that the ministry will give facilities and funding to private daycares by having them establish new legal personages to allow the establishment of cooperatives with the government.”
Tuition subsidy rules only regulate private daycare centers, said Yen Chai-chen (顏嘉辰), vice chairman of the union’s Early Childhood Education Committee, urging the ministry to mandate educational standards and require schools to pay the same minimum salary as non-profit centers to be eligible for tuition subsidies.
Most private daycare centers pay wages that are only slightly higher than the monthly minimum wage of NT$21,009, he said, adding that non-profit centers offer starting salaries of NT$ 30,155 with public daycare centers offering NT$34,155.
Public and non-profit daycare centers should be established at a similar pace, he said, calling on the government to establish more public daycare centers to reach its non-profit daycare center target.
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