preschool - David Bachar - March 7 2011
Children playing at a Tel Aviv preschool. Photo by David Bachar
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About half of privately run preschools have no official supervision whatever, according to a report submitted to the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The committee is scheduled to convene today to consider legislation on the issue.

According to estimates, 74,000 children through age 3 are in day-care centers supervised by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, while 92,000 to 102,000 are in unsupervised centers.

The committee is deliberating a bill that would require a ministry license for all day care centers with at least seven children. The centers and their operators would have to meet requirements including the physical premises of the building, safety arrangements and professional qualifications.

According to the report, which was prepared by the Knesset Research and Information Center, information was not available on all privately run preschools; based on a survey carried out last year by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry that was itself based on interviews with about 1,000 daycare directors, nearly half (48.6 percent ) admitted that they were operating without supervision and 30.8 percent said they had no safety permit.

Of the directors interviewed for the survey, 8.4 percent had no documents attesting to their educational qualifications - including an elementary school diploma - and 28 percent had no formal training in education or childcare.

Private preschools are licensed in one of two ways: through a permit for exceptional use of a residential building, or through the Education Ministry. The latter license is required for day care centers with more than 10 children above age 3. According to the report, 56 percent of private childcare centers are in residential buildings.