A signboard outside the Jamia school gate reads “Gerda Philipsborn Day Care Centre.” For those who are unaware, Jamia facilitates, on its school campus, a crèche for the young children of Jamia students and staff.
The building of Gerda Philipsborn Day Care Centre also houses the Mushir Fatma Jamia Nursery School, which occupies the major portion of the building. The Day Care Centre was the brainchild of its director Parveen Khan, who is also the nursery school principal, and Dr. Jessy Abraham, a lecturer at the Department of Teacher Training and Non-Formal Education.
“Lady Irwin College, where I was earlier working at, had a very good crèche,” Parveen Khan said. “And when I came to Jamia, the nursery teachers here expressed their need for a day care centre. That is when Dr. Jessy Abraham at the Department of Teacher Training and I came together and made a proposal,” she said.
The proposal was sent to the then vice-chancellor Mushir-ul-Hassan and the University Grants Commission (UGC).
The UGC approved the proposal and the construction of the building was funded under UGC’s special assistance grant. The building was inaugurated in 2009 by Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed. It is named after the German social worker and educationist Gerda Philipsborn who came to Jamia in the early 1930s and served at Jamia’s nursery and primary schools. She was fondly nicknamed “Apa Jaan” by her colleagues at Jamia. A girls hostel in Jamia is also named after her.
The day care centre did not receive much response from the parents in the initial years of its establishment because most parents were unaware of it, said one of the teachers at the centre. But slowly, when more parents found out about the centre, and were satisfied that their children were in a safe environment and their needs were being met, the centre since 2011 has taken in a good number of children.
Though the demand for their service has increased, there are restrictions that limit its growth. The centre is allowed to admit only 20 children at a time between the age groups of 1–4 years; and its infrastructure is limited to only two air-conditioned activity rooms, one air-conditioned sleeping room, and one dining room. The children also have access to the age-appropriate swings in the centre’s lawn.
Humera Khatoon, a teacher at the centre said, “We provide the children with breakfast at eleven o’ clock and then lunch at one. Because they are among their peers, they adopt good eating habits by watching each other.”
Children are kept busy with activities such as picture reading, clay modeling, games, and watching cartoons. The rooms have been decorated by the teachers with colourful pictures of animals, birds, and with other crafts. A cabinet in one of the activity rooms has pediatric medicines in case the children feel sick while at the centre.
“If a child is unwell, the parents usually send us the medicines along with the children,” Humera said.
Another teacher at the crèche, Farhat, said that the parents are satisfied with the care they provide, but most of them feel that a pick-and-drop facility would be helpful because the centre is a long walk from the main Jamia school gate. Director Pareveen Khan said, “If we are allowed to take in more than 20 children, we would be able to pay our teachers better and provide for more facilities.”
In addition she said, Jamia does not fund the day care centre, and therefore, the centre is self-financing. Parents of most children at the centre are either Jamia employees or research scholars in Jamia, although it is also open to the entire Jamia neighbourhood.
The Gerda Philipsborn Day Care Centre is open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Apart from the monthly fee of Rs. 4,000, the centre charges a one-time admission fee of Rs. 11,000 as well.
If you are a student and a parent, and wish to have your child admitted to the on-campus day care centre, you can contact the Gerda Philipsborn Day Care Centre at 011-26981717 (ext. 184), or simply pay a visit at their office inside the Jamia school building.