x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

UAE nurseries to face more robust rules

The current law that is regulating nurseries in the Emirates dates back to 1983.

DUBAI // An updated draft of the federal law on nurseries has been approved by the Cabinet, paving the way for more robust regulations.

The law regulating nurseries dates to 1983 and addresses basic requirements such as health and safety.

Since then, many nurseries have shifted their focus from daycare to early childhood education and the UAE needs new legislation, said Moza Al Shoomi, head of the child department at the Ministry of Social Affairs.

"We have some gaps, the law is very old," Ms Al Shoomi said. "Now the number of nurseries is growing, the number of children is growing. We need some rules."

For example, the current law does not address child-to-staff ratios or parent's rights, which are regulated through internal standards at the ministry. There are more than 300 licensed nurseries in the country.

The ministry began drafting the updated law in 2008 and submitted it to the Cabinet for approval in 2011.

In the meantime, the ministry unveiled a three-year plan to improve nursery education and began a campaign of warnings and fines.

The draft law codifies the practice of issuing fines, Ms Al Shoomi said. It also sets educational requirements for nursery owners and directors. The draft must be debated by the FNC and signed by the President, Sheikh Khalifa, before it becomes law.

vnereim@thenational.ae