Thu, Mar 14, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Clarification urged for semi-public preschool policy

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A mother and her child join Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Yen-hsiu, left, and Taipei City Councilor Chang Shi-gang at a news conference in Taipei yesterday to highlight flaws in the government’s semi-public preschool policy.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) and Taipei City Councilor Chang Shi-gang (張斯綱) yesterday urged the central government to provide “clueless and concerned” parents with clear information about its semi-public preschool policy.

The Executive Yuan in May last year announced a series of policies aiming to counter the nation’s low birthrate that included an increase in the number of affordable semi-public childcare and preschool programs.

Subsidies for semi-public daycare centers or contracted babysitters for children up to two years old was implemented in August last year, while those covering semi-public preschools for children aged between two and five in the six special municipalities is to be implemented on Aug. 1.

Most parents want their children to study at public preschools, but while there are more than 100,000 children aged between two and five in Taipei, the enrollment capacity of all public, non-profit and private preschools in the city is less then 70,000, Lee said.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) promised to increase the ratio of public and nonprofit preschools in the city to about 70 percent, but they currently only account for about 40 percent, Chang said, adding that although the Taipei Department of Education plans to increase enrollment capacity by 492 students this year, demand is still greater than supply, so many parents are counting on the semi-public preschool policy.

However, even though preschool enrollment is to begin soon, many parents still do not understand the semi-public preschool policy and have called Ko’s office to share their concerns, he said.

“There is absolutely no concrete information on the subsidy standards and details of the policy,” Lee said, adding that many parents are clueless and anxious about whether they should enroll their children in private preschools in case they are not chosen in the public preschool lottery.

“Many parents do not even know the difference between nonprofit preschools and semi-public preschools, or about their curriculum and teaching methods,” Chang said.

They urged the department and the Ministry of Education to clearly explain the semi-public preschool policy so that parents could make the best choices for their children.

Noting that the city government’s 70 percent goal is due by 2022, the department said that it would launch the programs late this month or early next month, hold policy explanation sessions to communicate with private preschools and set up a specialized hotline for parents.

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