Mothers urge after-school tutorials so they can work
A group of mothers from poor families chose the UN's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty yesterday to call for schools to provide after-school care and tutorial classes so they can work full-time.
Over 100,000 poor mothers are unable to get jobs or can only work part-time because they have to look after children under 12, said Sze Lai-shan, a social worker with the Society for Community Organisation.
A lack of child-care services meant some had no choice but to leave their children at home alone, or let them wander the streets.
'Helping these women find jobs means helping poor families,' Sze said. 'We are disappointed the policy address made no mention of helping women in poverty.'
Although the government had extended the home-based child-care service under the Neighbourhood Support Child Care Project launched in 2008, she said this was only for children under six. The mothers still have to pick up their children after school and take them to the service centres.
'The problem will be solved if children can stay in school for a few more hours after school,' Sze said.
In a survey by the organisation in July, 38 of 46 schools said they were willing to provide after-school services if they had the resources. Sze said schools lacked such resources because the government had been allocating them to voluntary groups.
The Fresh Fish Traders' School in Tai Kok Tsui opens its facilities to pupils seven days a week. But headmaster Leung Kee-cheong said they lacked the funding and staff to provide tutorial classes after school.
'I understand that what parents want is that their children are taken care of, receive help in school work, and are able to take part in extra-curricular activities,' he said.
The school also helps the poor by rewarding those pupils who score good grades with food they can share with their families.