Daycare centre owners are facing an uncertain future as the parents seem reluctant to entrust their children to such caregivers amid health crisis
- Many private daycare owners have been thinking about changing their businesses or selling them as they have not been earning any money due to the pandemic.
- Working parents have facing problems as offices reopened, but not the daycare centres
- Department of Women Affairs runs 43 daycare centres in the capital city, and 20 others across the country
- There are 15 daycare centres for children of female workers at garments and other type in Gazipur and Dhaka
- There are government daycare centres for low-income people in Chattogram, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Sylhet
- Bangladesh Shishu Academy provides daycare services to more than 800 children.
- There are also some government daycare centres for middle and low-income people in different parts of the city
Tanima Farhana started a daycare centre in a rented flat instead of taking up a traditional job after graduation. Everything was going very well for her business until the Covid-19 pandemic hit, when parents stopped sending their children to the daycare.
Although the situation has become a bit normal recently, children have not yet returned to her daycare centre. Tanima is now worried about survival of her business, as she have been paying rent for the flat and the workers' salaries without having any regular income.
Like Tanima, many other daycare centre owners are facing an uncertain future as the parents seem reluctant to send their children to such caregivers amid the unprecedented health crisis and the government has not yet allowed the daycare centres to reopen.
Tanima told The Business Standard, "I sustained the business with my savings so far. I am afraid that the children would not return until the coronavirus is eliminated. Now I am in indecision over starting some new business."
Although there are some information about the number of daycare centres run under government projects, there is no specific data about private daycares in the country.
People involved in this businesses said there are more than 1,000 private daycares in the capital, while nongovernmental organisations and entrepreneurs run several thousand daycare centres across the country.
Most of these private daycares are operated by women, who have been thinking about changing their businesses or selling them as they have not been earning any money due to the pandemic.
Anika Rahman, director of "Shishur Jatna (Children's Care)", is one of such small entrepreneurs who started a homemade food delivery business on her daycare centre premises when it stopped yielding any profit.
It is not certain when the children will return to the daycare. But the landlord is demanding his rents, so I had to start the new online-based business
Anika told TBS that, "It is not certain when the children will return to the daycare. But the landlord is demanding his rents, so I had to start the new online-based business."
Meanwhile, many working parents faced problems when they had to resume attending offices physically after the general holidays ended. Their children became accustomed to spending days with them, but now they can neither take them to their offices, nor can they keep them at daycares.
Najnin Akter, a working mother living in Mohammadpur, said she keeps her child at a distant cousin's house during the day when she and her husband attend offices.
Najnin and her husband are very doubtful whether they would ever send their baby to a daycare again before a vaccine for Covid-19 arrives.
According to the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, a daycare centre for the working mothers in Dhaka was set up under project of the Jatiyo Mohila Sangstha in 2002.
Currently the Department of Women Affairs is running 43 daycare centres in the capital city, and 20 others across the country.
Besides, there are government daycare centres for low-income people in Moghbazar, Kalyanpur, Mohammadpur, Jatrabari, Rampura, Ajimpur, Sutrapur, Tongi and Kamrnagichar areas, and for middle-income people in Bangladesh Secretariat, Ajimpur, Eskaton, Segunbagicha, Khilgaon and Mirpur areas.
These daycare centres remain open from 8am to 6pm every day except the government holidays.
In addition to these, there are government daycare centres for low-income people in Chattogram, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Sylhet.
Moreover, 15 daycare centres for children of female workers at garments and other type of factories are being operated in Gazipur and Dhaka under a project of the Jatiyo Mohila Sangstha.
We could not reopen our daycare centres, although offices have been reopened. We made the decision considering the safety of the children
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Shishu Academy provides daycare services to more than 800 children.
Maqsura Noor, additional secretary of women and children affairs ministry, told TBS that, "We could not reopen our daycare centres, although offices have been reopened. We made the decision considering the safety of the children."
She said decision to reopen the daycares may come when the situation improves further. Besides no decision over reopening the educational institutions have been taken yet, so everything depends on time.
According to the Labour Force Survey (2017-2018), around 1.86 crore women were employed in different sectors in the country. The daycare centre business had a huge potential for creating more employment for women in the country.
Khandoker Abdus Salam, programme consultant at Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies, told TBS, "Working women now face immense challenges both in formal and informal jobs. To overcome this situation, effective measures must be taken to ensure the survival of the private organisations."
He opined that the daycare centres can be reopened after considering proper health safety measures if the situation improves to some extent. However, he stressed the importance of ensuring the women's participation in the job sector and the safety of mothers and children under any circumstances.