The Ministry of Education and Science decided to create children's rooms at universities - for young fathers and mothers who have nowhere to put a small child while studying or working. Although, why lie - mainly for mothers. And not only for female students, but also for female teachers.
“This is necessary both for female students and for young teachers who also came and gave a lecture, and so that the child would definitely feel at ease,” explains Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education Olga Petrova. By the way, she talked about this at an event dedicated to the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
It would seem to be a good initiative that meets the policy of improving the birth rate, rejuvenating the age of first birth and other current trends. And this is not the first year that such conversations have been going on. Last year, Tatarstan Children's Ombudsman Irina Volynets proposed creating short-stay rooms for children so that students would not put off adding to their family. The State Duma supported the idea of children's rooms in universities, promising to discuss it with experts. And they also proposed transferring pregnant students from paid tuition to the budget.
However, it is not clear what exactly the ministry envisions for children’s rooms. The deputy head of the department also mentioned “small and very nice kindergartens.” Where will they work, in universities or on campuses? If “on-the-job learning and teaching” is expected, as Petrova says, the rooms should be located in the universities themselves.
In the context of the discussion, the ministry mentioned children's rooms, which resemble a fusion of an apart-hotel with a mother and child room in some shopping center. They say these are rooms where you can change a child, heat up food... It is planned to “open rooms for children on the first floors of buildings, equip them with furniture, including a changing table and a bathroom, as well as household appliances for storing and heating food.”
As MK managed to find out, information about the first floor and so on is an excerpt from SanPiN for preschool institutions. And I immediately want to ask - what about supervision? Just a table and just a microwave won’t solve the mother’s problem. Such a room bears little resemblance to a kindergarten or nursery, because then the child has to be dragged along to the lecture.
There is no official information about what children's rooms will be like in universities. Although the Ministry of Labor and the state employment program considered the creation of such rooms at universities and colleges back in 2019.
But from the Ministry of Education there are methodological recommendations for creating children's rooms, which indicate not only vocational education institutions, but also universities. According to “measures to increase the birth rate,” it is recommended to “open short-stay groups for children and mother and child rooms for student families.” There, “special purpose premises” are described, as well as the procedure for creating children’s groups and requirements for employees.
It is clear that any kindergarten, no matter how small and “cute” it is, is a serious matter. And especially picky requirements are placed on qualifications, medical care, employee health, fire protection and hygiene. And all this will require additional expenses with the same funding.
However, we have experience in creating children's rooms at universities: at the Higher School of Economics, at Tomsk State University. Their practice is encouraging. Children in “university” rooms are of a wide variety, from 3 to 12 years old. No more than 4 hours a day, therefore “short stay rooms”. But even in such a partial context of help, how much happiness and benefit! Children don’t just sit there, but take master classes: watercolor, appliqué, English. They make crafts, and for the most advanced - quests and puzzles.
There is nothing to say about mothers. “I did so many things in those three hours,” says graduate student Maria. And he adds: “It’s hard to combine two children and research.” “It’s a pity that such rooms didn’t exist a year ago, when you had to get permission from teachers and bring your child to classes,” recalls Sofia.
Evgenia is that same young teacher, and for her the most important thing is the children’s room during “lesson time”. Which can also be evening.
- There is no need to worry now that there is no one to leave the child with during lectures and laboratory hours. Especially if this happens in the evening, when regular kindergartens are not open. We don't have grandma and dad, there's only me. And the son is also like, “It’s boring with the nanny, it’s rotten in the studio,” at just six. In the children's room at the university, he first enjoyed the company and activities. There are babysitters here too, from the university. There are now four short-term children's rooms operating at the university, and they say there will be more. A very useful thing for development.