Focus on qualifications of staff at private nurseries.
Muscat: In a major overhaul, the managements of nurseries in Oman have been asked to furnish the details of the qualifications of their employees. "The Ministry of Social Development has made it clear that the teachers working in the nurseries should have the basic minimum qualifications required for the job," said Shagufta binth Hasham, the owner-cum-director of Little Flowers Nurseries and the Tender Buds Nursery. The matter was reportedly taken up during a meeting of nursery owners with the senior officials of the Ministry of Social Development in the Sultanate, recently. Meanwhile, an official of the Ministry of Social Development told Times of Oman on the condition of anonymity that nurseries not meeting the benchmark would be given time to upgrade their facilities. "But, those not complying with the norms will be forced to shut down," he warned. A large number of teachers in the private nursery schools are neither trained nor have proper qualifications to handle kids, the senior official of the Ministry of Social Development, which oversees nurseries, said. Nursery owners said the norms govern not only teachers, but everyone who works at the nurseries, including supervisors and nannies. "This is just a part of the major overhaul exercise for nurseries. The staff must have the required experience," a nursery owner said. The nurseries in the Sultanate will have to obtain a certificate from the Directorate General of Civil Defence, stating that they meet the required safety and security standards. Shagufta recalled the incident when 13 kids died in a fire in Qatar mall in May, 2012. The nursery was located inside the famous Villagio Mall in Doha. Currently, there are around 35 nurseries, creches and play schools in Muscat city, and the numbers have grown over the years in view of the rising population and the increasing number of married women opting for jobs. Deepa Raman, Director and the Principal of Indian Nursery, which has branches in Darsait, Ghubrah, Al Khuwair and Hail, said they would strictly abide by the rules. "This is simply because safety comes first for the children," she said. Under the new rules, those applying for a licence for nursery must have enough space and proper medical facilities. "The number of children in each room should not exceed 15 and the infants should be separated from older children," the official noted. However, with the rising rents and salaries of qualified teachers, this seems to be a difficult proposition, a nursery owner said, on the condition of anonymity.
Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2012
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