Al-Mufleh: Nurseries will continue to operate at 75% capacity
Amman - "Nurseries will continue their work with no suspension and will operate at 75% of their capacity," said Minister of Social Development, Ayman Al-Mufleh.
In a meeting organized by NCFA to discuss the status of nurseries, Al-Mufleh added that: "We decided to reconsider the matter while tightening control over nurseries," noting that "a medical protocol will be circulated to nurseries via directorates so that a written commitment will be signed by nursery administrations.”
Mufleh said that "a good percentage of female workers are from the medical sector. These women are the first line of defence, and therefore keeping nurseries operational is necessary for their work to ensure the efficiency and capability of the health sector."
"The circulated protocol includes conditions related to sterilization and preventive measures in addition to the procedures that must be followed in the event of an infection among children or workers", added Mufleh.
He further explained that out of the 1,437 nurseries registered at the Ministry, the nurseries that returned to work after the closure last June amounted to 680 nurseries, indicating that the nursery will be closed in the event of an infection for the purposes of sterilization, to be reopened after that, ensuring that the infected will not return until full recovery.
For his part, NCFA Secretary-General, Muhammad Miqdadi, appreciated the government's decision to reopen nurseries, considering that "the continuity of nurseries' work is an urgent necessity as they remain a safe haven for children while their parents are at work”, particularly as nurseries are among the safest sectors in terms of infections as children are the least affected by the virus among the other age groups.
Miqdadi also emphasized the importance of nurseries as one of the main pillars of support for working mothers, particularly those working in jobs that require physical attendance at the workplace, as is the case in the health sector, pointing out that there are about 144 nurseries affiliated with the health sector with more than 1,200 children of female health workers.
Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, Salma Al-Nims, also praised the decision to keep nurseries operating, calling for similar decisions for the benefit of children in the ages of kindergartens and basic education up to 12 years.
"It is possible for the government to take precautionary measures and steps inside kindergartens and schools to ensure the safety of children, protect their right to education and at the same time provide a safe environment for children while their parents are at their workplaces", argued Al-Nims.
"Distance learning has placed great additional burdens on mothers, whether they are workers or otherwise”, continued Al-Nims, calling for the implementation of a hybrid education system or finding other ways to limit interaction and ensure social distancing in kindergartens and schools.
Jordan’s Country Director at Plan International and member of the National Commission for Childhood, Mona Abbas, pointed out that child care institutions remain the most essential actors in the protection of children against violence.
"Schools and kindergartens are key players in detecting cases of violence and abuse against children, and as a result of school closures, we are no longer able to reach a large group of children exposed to abuse and violence," added Abbas, calling for the implementation of home-visit programs for children exposed to violence and activation of hot-lines to receive complaints about violence cases.
In this context, an initiative tilted “My Right to Learn in My School” called on the Ministry of Education to take a position similar to that of the Ministry of Social Development by opening the door for dialogue with parents to create a mechanism that guarantees children's right to education and safe environment.
Suzan Al-Bakhit, a founding member of the initiative, warned that "the continuation of distance learning will inevitably mean more school dropout for children particularly as indicators show that about 16% of the children were not able to access the Darsak platform."
She also warned of "the consequences of such dropout in increasing the number of working children and underage marriages,” highlighting its effect on children themselves including giving rise to isolation and hostile attitudes among them as a result of lack of interaction in schools and society.