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Govt explores setting-up of childcare centres

PUTRAJAYA, 18 June 2009: The government is seriously looking into setting up community-based childcare centres throughout the country, Director-General of Manpower Datuk Ismail Abdul Rahim said today.

He said studies and consultations were being held to fine-tune the idea and come up with a workable model suitable for implementation.

The centres would be a long-term solution to help reduce the dependence of Malaysian families on foreign maids, he told Bernama here today.

The government’s earlier proposal to set up such centres at the workplace did not receive much support, “hence we are revisiting this proposal in view of the present circumstances,” he added.

Ismail said as a matter of policy, the government would also study the possibility of seeking the assistance of housing developers to allocate special areas to set up such centres in housing estates.

The department would also encourage the inclusion of special childcare-centre allowances in collective agreements, he said, adding that some companies had already done so.

On the management of these centres, he said one possibility was to rope in the Community Development Department (Kemas) to manage centres in the rural areas.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Shamsuddin Bardan supported the idea, saying it was the MEF’s philosophy to provide quality education to children at an early age.

“At present, we are unhappy that less than 2% of the children are enjoying this benefit,” he said.

Shamsuddin said such centres should be approved and supervised closely by the government. He suggested that unemployed graduates be trained as  teachers and entrepreneurs to manage these centres on a national scale, and that foreign workers be kept out.

He said the centres would also allow more women to enter the job market and hopefully increase the women workforce to 60%, or 1.2 million workers, from the current 46%.

“We can then reduce our foreign workers by this number also,” Shamsuddin said.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress women section chief Noorlaila Aslah said the congress fully supported the move and would assist the government in realising its objective.

“In fact, the workers have been pushing for this idea for a long time and we are glad that it is being seriously considered by the government,” she said. — Bernama

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