03 June 2014



How Do Inadequacy of Early Child Care and Education Services Affect Women?

Institutionalization of early child care and education services is belated in Turkey and these services are not widepsread so as to meet the needs. Related studies focus on the negative effect of this issue on children’s development and education. Furthermore, since child care is one of gender roles expected to be performed by women, it is important to underline this service is still expected to be given by women at home and this issue affects women’s lives as well as children’s. We know that many women cannot participate in social life and labor force since they cannot share the burden of child care (including elder, handicapped and patient care) with men equally and child care services are not provided publicly. Even though she participates in labor force, she cannot remain in worklife for a long time or she does not have equal opportunities with men in the sense of pay and employment in jobs with career opportunities. For this reason, it is crucial for women that child care is shared equally between men and women, early child care and education services are provided as a public service and extended.

Recently, issue of increasing women’s employment is frequently raised by the government but because it is assessed on the basis of empowering “family” not women, it is focused on a model that women both work and look after children. This means women are stuck in part time job. We are witnessing an attempt towards precarization of labor market through discourse of increasing women’s employment. Because they cannot transfer their caring duties, many women are obliged to work at home informally and without security.  In addition, women cannot find jobs except informal ones, since child care and other caring duties are the main obstacles for gaining qualifications thought to be necessary to be able to work in decent jobs.

The state does not provide enough and quality service plus it facilitates the obligation of opening kindergartens for the employer. According to the law, only workplaces where more than 150 women are employed, have to open kindergartens. If we think there are mostly small and medium scale enterprises in Turkey, this clause becomes meaningless and is a reflection of the mentality which regards caring as only woman’s responsibility. This mentality is contrary to 10th clause of the constitution which regulates rights for gender equality and 49th clause which mentions that working is everyone’s right, because child care and other caring duties prevents women to participate in worklife.

KEİG Platform’s Work on Early Child Care and Education Services

Last year, kindergarten campaign on early child care and education services was initiated by  Kindergarten is a Right Platform which we sustained as one of the founders and partners of Kindergarten is a Right. As KEİG Platform, we argue that extension of these services directly affects women’s lives and their participation in the labor force, therefore is extremely important. Furthermore, to extend these services, it is important to first determine the needs and do the regulations accordingly. In this context, we tried to determine what existing situation is, quality and quantity of existing services in 13 provinces we work.

Within this scope, in order to identify whether workplaces fulfill kindergarten and lactation room requirements, whether there is an audit about that, we have applied to institutions in 13 provinces (Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Bursa, Çanakkale, Denizli, Diyarbakır, İstanbul, İzmir, Mersin, Trabzon, Urfa, Van) to gain information. We have investigated kindergartens that belongs to central and local administration. Additionally, in the scope of the study, mayor candidates have signed contracts before local elections in which they gave the promise of opening kindergartens.

First, in the applications of information gaining to SGK Provincial Directorates, Provincial Inspection Boards and İŞKUR Provincial Directorates in 13 provinces, we have asked for number of workplaces which employed more than 150 women, whether they had kindergartens or not, number of workplaces which employed more than 100 women and whether they had lactation rooms or not and whether they had audits or not. Yet, when we saw that first answers from institutions were limited by their answers to questions they chose themselves, we limited applications in these provinces as identifying number of workplaces that are obliged to open kindergartens by law and measuring validity of legal condition in the level of provinces.

This process lasted quite long. In almost all provinces SGK Provincial Directorates, Provincial Inspection Boards and İŞKUR Provincial Directorates redirected our applications to each other since they do not have any information. In all provinces we got reply from, generally workplaces more than 100 and 150 women employees are quite few. When we look at SGK general data [1] , number of workplaces more than 100 employees in Adana is 263, in Ankara 1026, in Çanakkale 54, in Denizli 207 while those which have more than 100 women employees are 65 in Adana, 367 in Ankara, 12 in Çanakkale, 96 in Denizli. As shown in Table-1, workplaces more than 100 employees in these provinces are quite few, among these the ones which have more than 100 women employees are even less.

Table-1: Workplaces According to Number of Employees

Number of workplaces with 0-100 employees Number of workplaces with more than 100 employees Number of workplaces with more than 100 women employees
Adana 35 874 263 65
Ankara 120 105 1 026 367
Çanakkale 11 931 54 12
Denizli 21 736 207 96

We could not get any answer about how many workplaces meet the requirement of opening lactation rooms and kindergartens. Generally, both the number of workplaces that have more than 100 and 150 women employees are quite few and kindergarten and lactation room services of these workplaces are even less in Turkey. Also, required audits are not performed. This could also be seen in the numbers that Working and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik has declared. In Çelik’s declaration for a parliamentary question , there are 1658 formal institutions and 7204 private corporations in Turkey that have more than 150 women employees. In 2012, 299 workplaces that employ more than 100 women employees were audited. Among 300 audited workplaces, although there should have been lactation rooms in 127 of them, 81 of them did not have and among 172 workplaces that had to open kindergartens, 76 of them did not.

We think this result also tell so many things, despite we got very limited and single issue answer from information gaining applications. From these answers, once more we have seen how few the number of workplaces that have more than 150 women employees, requirement of opening kindergartens for workplaces that have more than 150 women employees according to legislation does not make any sense.

We have arranged total number of kindergartens, day care centers, preschools, nursery classes and children according to National Education Statistics of MEB (National Education Ministry). According to this, there are 591 educational institutions for 200 thousand children population between 0-5 years in Adana. When we look at similar data for other provinces, there are 1318 institutions for more than 400 thousand children in Ankara, 720 institutions for nearly 200 thousand children in Antalya, 669 institutions for nearly 250 thousand children in Bursa, 177 institutions for nearly 30 thousand children in Çanakkale, 398 institutions for more than 75 thousand children Denizli, 800 institutions for nearly 230 thousand children in Diyarbakır, 2626 institutions for nearly 1 million 350 thousand children in İstanbul, 1188 institutions for more than 300 thousand children in İzmir, 450 institutions for more than 150 thousand children in Kocaeli, 578 institutions for nearly 170 thousand children in Mersin, 325 institutions for 60 thousand children in Trabzon, 944 institutions for nearly 320 thousand children in Urfa and 646 institutions for 160 thousand children in Van. It is obvious form the data that early child care and education services are not provided adequately and cannot meet the needs.

While, determining the situation about early child care and education services, we also tried to gain information about how services were offered. That’s why we had audit visits to some kindergartens in provinces. In these visits, we determined how, when, in which conditions etc. care and education services were offered in existing kindergartens.

For instance, in İzmir, we have visited the kindergarten that İzelman, a corporation owned by İzmir Municipality, run. In the kindergarten, it is seen that service is provided for children between 1-5.5 years, while the fees are lower for municipality employees, higher fees were charged for other beneficiaries. Shuttle fees were also paid by parents. The kindergarten has 80 children capacity and is compatible with MEB (National Education Ministry) curriculum.

We have visited 2 kindergartens in İstanbul that belonged to local administration. These kindergartens belongs to Municipalities of Şişli and Kartal are run by municipalities directly rather than a corporation and service is provided much cheaper as compared to private kindergartens. There is no care service for children between 0-3 years right now but, it is said to be in the agenda. There are 6 kindergartens that belongs to Municipality of Şişli, 11 kindergartens that belongs to Municipality of Kartal and they are financed by the municipality added to fees paid by parents. Number of children who cannot be charged because of their socioeconomic situation is quite large. Both municipalities included statements like “more kindergartens, one kindergarten for each district” in their election declarations.

We have visited Ali Ağaoğlu nursery school, Çanakkale Municipality Esenler Social Life House, Kepez Municipality and Yenice Municipality kindergartens in Çanakkale.  There are two main points came out from the observations: no service for children between 0-3 years and family trainings within the institutions are generally focused on “teaching motherhood”. As a result of visits, it is confirmed that there is no comprehensive preschool service provided by municipalities directly in Çanakkale.  However, municipalities with National Education Ministry provide care services much cheaper than private kindergartens for children between 3-6 years. This case, confirms the importance of public care services.

There are nursery classes in Culture Houses to women who benefit from courses, seminars, and training center services in Municipality of Yüreğir in Adana. Children between 2-5 years can benefit from nursery classes of 25 children capacity as groups of morning and noon. In addition, the municipality has opened children’s house in cooperation with UNICEF in Doğukent region where seasonal work is widespread. Furthermore, we have learned during the visit to Atatürk Technical and Vocational Girls High School which is one of the two schools that have implementation classes, 50 of 80 quota was filled because of low women’s employment  in the region and idea that child care is mother’s responsibility. Transportation is provided by parents in the school where service is provided for children between 3-6 years; there are 11 interns all of which are women, 3 teachers, 1 cook and 1 cleaning staff providing service for children. Full time fee is 250 and part time is 110 TL.

We have also visited Ahmet Yesevi Multipurpose Society Center (ÇATOM) under GAP Administration and Urfa Municipality of Viranşehir  Avşîn Baxçên Zarokan Kindergartens.

There is a children’s room in Ahmet Yesevi District for children between 3-6 years whose mothers take training courses in ÇATOM. 35 children benefit form this service. The official we met underlined that child care service is the most important need for women to participate in ÇATOM’s activities. Another underlined issue was minimum wage for trainers make it unpreferrable for child development graduates.

In Viranşehir Municipality’s kindergarten, service is provided for children of 3-6 years between 09.00-17.00 free of charge. One of the most important characteristics of the kindergarten is service in native language. There are sleeping rooms, kitchen, play rooms and 3 classes in the kindergarten where 3 trainers and 2 co-trainers work. Trainers are child development graduates and they have taken gender training from women support center of municipality. This kindergarten is an important example as it provides service in native language and trainers have taken gender training.
We have visited ministry kindergartens in Ankara. There is one kindergarten belongs to Ministry of Working and Social Security for children between 2-6 years with a capacity of 100 children. It charges 300 TL for children of staff and 400 TL for others. Teachers are vocational high school graduates and get minimum wage. When we wanted to visit Ministry of Family and Social Policies’ kindergarten, we have learned that the Ministry does not have a kindergarten for its own staff.

Another study we conduct in provinces was to make mayor candidates to sign contracts to promise opening kindergartens. In this contract prepared with reference to relevant items of The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), there is given the disproportional number of children and kindergartens in the province and promises of candidates about the issue after they are elected.

Some major candidates from HDP, BDP, DSP, CHP and MHP political parties from Adana, Antalya, İzmir, Urfa, Denizli and Trabzon have signed the contracts. Major of Bakırköy in İstanbul from CHP did not sign but, he promised to keep on working on the issue. Out of 16 mayor candidates, Mayor of Adana, Adana/Seyhan, Adana/Çukurova, Antalya/Muratpaşa and Çanakkale were elected. In the next process, these contracts will be pursued and shared with press and public.

[1]  http://www.sgk.gov.tr/wps/portal/tr/kurumsal/istatistikler/sgk_istatistik_yilliklari/

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