2021-07-05 09:09:30

Several Chinese cities are set to mobilize local primary schools to provide day care services over the summer holidays to address the childcare requirements of parents.

Education authorities in the eastern cities of Ningbo and Tai’an are the latest to offer such programs after parents complained of difficultés in taking care of their children over the break. The move came after Beijing Municipal Education Commission on Friday announced a similar program would be launched for working parents in the capital who required day care centers for their children.

Following the announcement, a school in the capital’s suburban Changping District said students can sign up for a 12-day session for 360 yuan ($55). The school will provide two such sessions during the two-month summer break.

According to education authorities in Beijing, participating schools are required to make their library and other learning facilities accessible to students over the school holiday. While schools are allowed to schedule sports activities for the students, no academic training or group tutoring is permitted.

Though the authorities intend for the programs to ease the burden of day care on parents, parents themselves were divided over the need for such initiatives.

“Given there’s a choice, I would send my son there as he learns better at school than at home where he is likely to be disrupted by his younger siblings,” Lin Lin, mother of a fourth-grader in Beijing’s Dongcheng District, told Sixth Tone.

Gao Peng, the father of a second-grade student, said that such a plan would only exhaust teachers and result in them losing their vacation time.

“We should consider the issue also from the teacher’s perspective — if they are left exhausted and unhappy, how can they maintain the passion and love for this job and their students? It won’t be a positive cycle,” Gao told Sixth Tone.

In contrast with Beijing’s initiative, Shanghai has mobilized student volunteers to provide day care services for primary school students in community facilities during summer break. Since the city launched the program in 2014, the program has benefited hundreds of thousands of students, and more than 12,000 volunteers have signed up for this year’s program.

However, the city is likely to follow in the steps of other cities soon. A local primary school teacher told Sixth Tone that her school has already assigned teachers for day care services over the holidays. Most of them are music, sports, and art teachers, she said.

“So far, not many students have signed up, as we’re attempting it for the first time,” said the teacher, who requested anonymity due to privacy concerns. “I’m not sure how the initiative might be received among families, but I’m sure teachers won’t be fond of it.”

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Children at a kindergarten day care facility in Suqian, Jiangsu province, Aug. 7, 2021. People Visual)