BEd student Pallavi Kumar is always worried if her four-year-old daughter Apeksha is fine at home when she goes to college.
“I would keep thinking about her (Apeksha) every time I left for college. I used to fear that she would hurt herself,” said Pallavi. Now, the Women’s Training College student will have the option to take her child along to her institute. A baby care centre was opened on Tuesday on the institute premises.
Children up to the age of six would be taken care of at the centre while their parents take classes or work at the college.
Art, culture and youth affairs minister Sukhda Pandey and social welfare minister Parveen Amanullah together inaugurated the facility. Patna University vice-chancellor Shambhu Nath Singh also attended the ceremony.
The principal of the college, Jessie George Modi, said: “This baby care centre has been set up under a University Grants Commission (UGC)-sponsored scheme. We received a fund of Rs 2 lakh for this. It will be very useful for the students and teachers of our college.”
She added: “Students who have to leave their children at home are often very stressed. At times, they miss classes when the children fall ill. The baby care centre will help such students.
“We have also decided to appoint an ayah to take care of the children, though there is no such provision in the UGC scheme. The students would have to pay a nominal fee for it.”
She also requested the vice-chancellor to arrange for the salary of the maid from the varsity budget.
Students were naturally upbeat about the new facility.
One of them, Rashmi said: “I have a nine-month-old baby. I often used to miss my classes to take care of her. But from now I shall not face any such problem.”
Sukhda said: “I had my first child when I was an undergraduate student and my second child was born when I was an MA student. I know how difficult it is for students to take care of their children and study at the same time.
“Mothers are often very anxious about their children and this can hamper their studies. Having a baby care centre at the college is a good idea.”
Parveen Amanullah also praised the initiative.
“Having a baby care centre in a college is a very unusual concept. I believe that the students and the teachers would benefit from this,” she said.
The principal said: “We want the centre to be children-friendly. So we have purchased a number of toys for them. We have also bought books of English and Hindi nursery rhymes as well as educational CDs. There would be exciting virtual games for children. There would also be a TV and a DVD player so that the children can entertain themselves.”
Entertainment apart, the décor of the baby care centre would be tailored to suit its occupants.
Modi said: “The baby care centre would have colourful wallpaper and semi-wooden flooring. There would also be a microwave to heat milk and other eatables.
The principal also said: “Diapers would also be made available for the children. Parents would, however, have to pay for the diapers they use. The centre would also have a bathroom exclusively for the babies. The sink in the bathroom would be low so that the children can reach it easily. The walls of the bathroom would have bright colours.”
A student said: “The facilities at the baby care centre in the college would keep the children occupied while we attend classes. As there will be an ayah to look after them, we will not have to worry. We are thankful to the college authorities for providing such a facility for us.”