WHILE SCHOOLS and colleges in the state have remained shut for the last nine months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, around 60 children in Morbi have kept up with their studies thanks to a daycare centre run by a ceramic factory.
Lioli Ceramic Private Limited, a ceramic factory located in Juna Sadulka village near Morbi town, has a big multi-purpose hall. One of them has been functioning as a daycare centre for children of around 400 workers working in the ceramic factory. Not only is the centre taking care of around 30 toddlers, it is also helping around 30 school-going children to keep up with their studies even as their schools have remained closed.
Directors of Lioli Ceramic said that the idea was to take care of children of couple who both at the factory.
“Our factory started operations in 2017 but we had included this hall in the layout of the factory and had constructed it as part of the entire compound. The idea was that when we were setting up such a big factory, we should also think about children of our labourers. In our factory, many of our employees are married couples. Therefore, we hired two private tutors who take care of their children from 10 am to 4 pm, including their lunch, refreshments etc while also teaching them basic Gujarati, Hindi, English and mathematics,” Manish Gadara, one of the directors of Lioli Ceramic told The Sunday Express.
Gadara said that generally, there would be around 30 children in the daycare centre on his factory premises. “But since the lockdown began, our centre started taking care of additional 30 children as their school in nearby Bharatnagar village was closed,” said the director.
Lioli Ceramic has engaged wife of one of its managers and another woman from a nearby village as tutors-cum-caretakers. “Around 70 per cent of workers in our factory are from other states and their children learn in Hindi medium. The rest are from Gujarat and they learn basics in Gujarati medium,” Gadara said.
When asked if the daycare centre had permission from the state government, the director said: “This is a private arrangement within our factory compound and therefore does not require any permission from the government. The centre is following Covid-19 norms. A team from the state health department visits our factory once every week and it does general health check-up of all the children,” Gadara adds.
“We provide transportation to school children but as the schools are closed, their learning is taking place only in the daycare centre on the premises of our factory,” the director added.
Bharat Solanki, District Education Officer (DEO) of Morbi district, however, said that running such a centre may be construed as violation of the Epidemic Diseases Act. “While such a centre may not require permission from education department, but running it during these times may run contrary to provisions of the Epidemic Disease Act and may attract legal action,” said Solanki.
Nilesh Jetpariya, president of wall tile division in Morbi Ceramic Association, said that a few other factories too have experimented with the day care centre concept but with limited success. “I had opened one in my own factory with 15 children but had to shut it down after number plunged to just three as parents preferred to send their children to conventional schools. In any case, whoever run such centres, should shut them down after the lockdown,” said Jetpariya.