Bill amending law on children’s summer holiday centres approved

Tunis: The Assembly of People's Representatives (ARP) approved on Tuesday bill No.21 of 2024 amending the 2nd chapter of law No. 69 of 2003 on children's summer holiday and leisure centres with 117 votes for, 14 abstention and 5 against. Attending the plenary session, Minister of Family, Women, Children and the Elderly Amel Belhaj Moussa said the ministry is ready to increase the number of these centres. A new leisure centre will be set up in Tabarak, Jendouba governorate, she said. Necessary human resources had been allocated to Zarzis centre in the governorate of Médenine (an accommodation capacity of 240 children), which will open its doors in the next few weeks, as well as to the Hammamet centre in Nabeul (an accommodation capacity of 120 children) to help children benefit from various services and quality care, she added. The minister said each group of 5 children will be looked after by a specialised educator; a psychologist will take care of each group of 10 children, in addition to other education coordinators and educational staff. The creation of such centres is "costly," as was the case for the Zarzis centre (TND 11 million) which led the ministry to propose in this bill that activities of these centres should continue beyond the summer holidays and weekends and that they should be used to organise events for which a fee is charged in order to improve their financial resources. Belhaj Moussa also emphasised the need to give children's leisure activities the importance they deserve as this helps ensure they receive a good education and protects them from a wide range of risky behaviour and violence. Commenting on the call by some MPs to allow children from poor families and inland regions to gain access to services offered by these centres, the minister said the ministry adopts a positive discrimination policy through several measures put in place to this end. In this respect, she reviewed the most important programmes in favour of children, including the reopening and rehabilitation of 68 childr en's institutions across the country, the "Our kindergarten in our neighbourhood" programme which has helped integrate 25,000 children and the development of 105 children's centres, 200 children's clubs and 26 computer centres across the country. The Ministry had also recruited over 300 educators and child life specialists and plans to launch a competitive recruitment of child protection officers, she added. The Ministry is currently working on developing a national strategy to combat digital violence against children and will release awareness-raising media content to help build children's ability of safe surfing on the internet. Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse