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In Malaysia, family-friendly workplaces give children and business a boost

By Hema Balasundaram

SERI KEMBANGAN, Malaysia, 21 September 2012 - On a Monday morning, 5-year-old Lyana is getting ready for preschool. Like many children, she comes from a dual-income family who rely on child care outside the home. What sets them apart is that Lyana attends preschool at her mother’s workplace, Kein Hing Industry.

VIDEO: 21 September 2012 - UNICEF correspondent Hema Balasundram reports on how family-friendly businesses in Malaysia are a win-win for all.  Watch in RealPlayer


The manufacturing company set up the preschool in 1998 to address the needs of its employees.  About 60 children aged 2 to 6 attend the preschool, which also provides afterschool care for children 12 and under.

Parents and business benefit

Lyana’s mother Mimma binti Nordin is glad for the peace of mind having the school on site gives her. “As a working mother,” she says, “I feel it is more convenient. I can carry out my job and duties perfectly without any disturbances. Also, I don’t need to worry about her safety. And I don’t need to worry about the food and the hygiene, and the most importantly, her knowledge.”

The preschool was founded to assist working mothers, but there has also been a positive business impact, according to its adviser, Elaine Yong. “When our customers see our child care centre, they are able to perceive a softer image to our engineering environment. And, on top of that, whenever new candidates come to our company for interviews, they are always drawn by our child care centre facilities,” she says.

© UNICEF Malaysia/2012/Balasundaram
Mimma binti Nordin picks up her daughter Lyana, 5, at the end of the work day. Lyana attends a preschool at her mother's workplace, Kein Hing Industry in Malaysia.

Win–win for all

Access to good-quality child care is a pressing issue in Malaysia, which is trying to boost the participation of women in the workforce. Media reports of neglect and abuse in some care centres have made the need to find reliable child care that much more pressing.

In response, UNICEF and the Companies Commission of Malaysia have launched a Best Business Practice Circular on ‘Establishment of a Child Care Centre at the Work Place’ and an accompanying toolkit – a step forward in promoting child-focused corporate social responsibility in Malaysia.

© UNICEF Malaysia/2012/Balasundaram
Lyana loves to learn and has become more independent since she started attending the preschool, according to her mother.

UNICEF Representative in Malaysia Wivina Belmonte says, “This is really a win–win. A win for the private sector, a win for its employees. Mothers who are in the workforce clearly stay on longer when they have access to child care, and it actually boosts the number of women in the workforce, which is completely in line with Vision 2020.”

The goal is for more companies in Malaysia to adopt child-focused corporate social responsibility measures, including offering child care services. Such measures will not only make businesses more competitive and sustainable, but will also allow working parents to be better caregivers and enable children like Lyana to thrive and develop to their fullest potential.



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