By Abuchi Onwumelu
As part of its effort towards solving the problem of child theft and abuse in Day-Care Centres across the state, the Anambra State Government through the Ministry of Women's and Children's Affairs, recently trained over 100 Day-Care proprietors and proprietresses on child management and operational tips.
Addressing the participants, the State Commissioner for Social Welfare, Women's and Children's Affairs, Lady Ndidi Mezue, said that government was worried with some unwholesome and unethical conducts of some Day Care Centre operators, especially as it concerned reducing such places to baby factories for illegitimate business.
The commissioner who was represented by the Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on Social Welfare, Women's and Children's Affairs, Hon. Onyeka Ebenebe, said government frowned at Anambra being on the wrong side of media reports, especially when such reports were associated with selling of babies.
She said government had taken concrete steps to drastically reduce the sale of babies through getting Day Care Centre owners to understand the rudiments and rules governing such vocation.
According to her, the ministry was not strict with the minimum operational standards of Day Care Centres but noted that government placed very high premium on the way and manner which such places were run considering the susceptibility and vulnerability of infants.
She further noted that government had discovered that some practitioners could not clearly distinguish between Day Care Centres and schools.
The commissioner said that government insisted on best practices in operating Day Care Centres because schools and Day Care Centres played different roles in society.
Mrs Mezue posited that after the training for Day Care Centre owners, it was expected that there would be an improved environment where the safety and security of children would be paramount, as well as where Day Care Centres would be operated in line with the provisions of the law and the ministry's guidelines.
'We are taking drastic measures to put an end to the menace of selling babies. The decision however prompted the state government to take statistical data of Day Care Centres and other places taking custody of infants to avoid unconventional practices,' Mezue concluded.
For his part, a resource person on the occasion who functions as a child development expert and former Director of Child Development in the defunct Anambra State Ministry of Women's Affairs and Social Development, Mr. Emeka Edward Ejide, said there seemed to be a gross misunderstanding of the workings of Day Care Centres as many believed wrongly that Day Care Centres were nursery institutions.
Ejide who is a child protection consultant and the founder of My Child, My Care Development Initiative, described Day Care Centres as platforms for non-curricula activities that actually aided the child for effective cognitive development.
Although he expressed deep concern that those operating such centres in the state had little or no knowledge about it because the facilities were non-existent, together with poor staff strength, and lack of health conscious, he emphasized that Day Care Centres were not platforms for money-making but platforms for showcasing passion for children.
He said the training would enable the owners of Day Care Centres to differentiate between their institutions and other institutions of child development.
The consultant on child protection who presented a paper on “Sustainability of Child Development: Day Care Centre Approach”, however admonished participants to deploy the knowledge garnered from the technical session to improve their services as Day-Care Centre operators in the state.