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July 8, 2014

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Home » Metro » Education

Affordable daycare centers bring relief to parents

IN a program backed by the city government, a total of 229 daycare centers opened yesterday for children of working parents during summer holiday.

The centers will look after primary school students who would otherwise have been left unattended at home or sent to commercial daycare centers which are costly, said Yuan Yuanfei, deputy director of the Shanghai Youth Committee that runs the program.

Yang said the daycare centers will run from 8am to 4pm on working days. Some of the centers stay open until 6pm for parents who work late.

The monthly fees will not be more than 600 yuan (US$96). It costs at least 3,000 yuan at commercial institutes.

The centers will conduct classes such as singing and dancing, Shanghai dialect, drawing, performance and handicrafts. They will also have outing activities to places like museums.

Each class will have about 30 to 40 students with a teacher and at least five volunteers.

“The center is a wonderful place for children to make friends while learning new skills,” said Zhang Jing, the mother of an 8-year-old girl at a center on Nanjing Road W.

Zhang, who runs a spa center, said she had an ayi to look after her daughter. But the ayi was strict and her daughter struggled to communicate with others. Her daughter also became short-sighted as the ayi forced her to watch TV the whole day to keep her occupied.

“I regretted a lot after that experience. So I visited a psychiatrist who advised me to spend more time with my daughter and help her to make friends through activities like the ones at the center,” Zhang said.

Zhang said she chose the government-run daycare center over commercial ones as it was close to her home.

The daycare centers are also proving popular among families who have more than one child.

Hong Yongzhen, a 75-year-old woman, said her daughter-in-law just had twin sisters. She also looks after her 6-year-old grandson. “The parents are working and have no time to take care of the kids,” Hong said. “I’m the only one who can lend a hand, but I’m getting old.”

Hong has been taking care of her grandson since his birth. “Thanks to the daycare centers, I can relax a bit.”

Some of the parents want more centers in the future while demanding that the centers open as soon as the school shuts for holiday.

So far, the government-run centers can accommodate about 16,000 students, while the total number of primary school students in Shanghai is 760,000.


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