Čáslav Airport has become the first military base in the country to offer families child group services (effectively a day care system for parents unable to register their son or daughter at a local pre-schools either because they are too young or there is no available spot). Legislation covering so-called ‘child groups’ was introduced last year to offer parents an alternative when they were left no other option.
Enrolling your child at a pre-school in the Czech Republic can be a major hassle to put it mildly, an ordeal many parents are deeply familiar with. Some years back the media reported some whose children were not accepted had gone as far as taking the highly questionable step of leaving their children at supervised children’s corners in shopping malls for hours. Such a move is problematic at best as such corners qualify as little more than supervised playgrounds failing to provide anything close to complex security or care, including places for children to eat or rest.
Legislators in the country reacted to the shortage of spots in nursery schools by introducing child groups; according to the spokesman for the Ministry of Regional Development, there should be around 200 of the groups across the Czech Republic by the end of the year, partly paid for from European funds. The matter has also now been addressed by the military, specifically at Čáslav airbase, east of Prague. The base’s commander Colonel Petr Hromek discussed the project with Czech TV:
The group at the Čáslav air base can take up to 24 pupils and activities are similar to those of a regular nursery school. Jaroslava Procházková is a member of the four-person team of instructors at the centre.
“The children have music, physical education, didactic exercises, exercises improving motor skills.”
One of those employed at the air base itself, Master Sergeant Tomáš Gdovin, told Czech TV that that the group had allowed his wife to be able return to work. They did try to enrol their two-and-a-half year-old son at local nursery schools but had no luck.
“The fact that the [children’s group] at my work site is a huge advantage. My wife just returned to work… We did try and enrol our son but at two-and-a-half [he is too young]… The schools were all full and they also have different preferences.”
The Czech Army is now considering forming child groups at other bases as well: Czech TV reported that two in particular are under consideration in Bechyně and Stará Boleslav.
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