The Need for Childcare Facilities at ICU

Michiko SAKAI
Undergraduate student, ICU

【The article below is the same as the article that appears in the 11th issue of the CGS Newsletter.】

After giving birth to my daughter in December 2007, I planned to return to ICU in April with the hope of entrusting my child to the proposed ICU childcare center. However, this childcare center was never established, and I was forced to abandon these plans. Critics may say that the idea of going to school while raising a child may have been too hopeful. I feel this myself more than anyone. Nevertheless, I feel overjoyed in being blessed with a daughter. Without question, I believe I made the right choice by giving birth to her.

And, I would still like to graduate from ICU. I grew up watching my mother balance household duties and her graduate school studies. Sure, it was tough for me, but I took pride in my mother who was pursuing her dreams. That is why I strongly believed it as possible to attain one's personal dreams and have a happy family at the same time. But reality turned out to be harsher than I thought. Enrolling a child in a day-care center requires a great deal of money. These expenses must be covered by a job, resulting in less time committed to studying at university. A mountain of problems still awaits those who are successful in enrolling their children in day-care centers. I stopped lactating as soon as I started working. Moreover, one must be able to get off work in order to pick up one's child if he/she develops a fever. My child frequently developed fevers in the beginning, and was eventually restricted from leaving the house for a week when she contracted pink-eye. Thus, I was frequently forced to miss out on work, and was not able to earn enough money. I changed my job, and am barely able to cope with daily life, while bringing my child to work when the number of days my child has spent in the childcare center has surpassed the designated limit. And the money I had saved for tuition was spent instead on university deferment fees.
With much to regret, I think with frustration, "if only ICU had a childcare center." If there was a childcare center, students who are raising a child would be given an opportunity to reach a higher level of education. Such a facility could also greatly benefit members of the faculty and staff as well.
Increased opportunities may play an important role in dealing with the problem of the decreasing birth rate in Japan. Not only would it be advantageous for those having children, but for ICU itself, as it will lead to a broader acquisition of better and brighter students and faculty. Furthermore, child-rearing helps people to mature. With more opportunities to come in contact, and communicate with those who are raising children, other students and faculty can develop a deeper understanding of such issues, and mature as well. Not only do I desire the establishment of a childcare center at ICU, but I also hope for price reductions in usage fees, care for children even when they are sick, the installation of nursing rooms, and facilities that are realistic and practical. However, it is not just about facilities. As discussed above, children develop sudden fevers, and being away from a child for prolonged periods of time can cause a mother to stop lactating. I would like the school to act upon the many voices regarding the problem, and come up with realistic solutions.
Why is it that in spite of the apparent urgency, the establishment of a childcare center in ICU cannot be realized? If the problem lies in financial difficulties, fund-raising can be carried out by volunteers, or a fund could be established. If there are legal problems, advice from a professional lawyer could lead to a solution.
We are in dire need of help, and must in one way or another, work to establish a childcare center. I would like the university to clearly specify the reasons why it cannot do so, and would also like everyone to become more aware of the issue, and speak out. I believe that now is the time to gather all the knowledge and power that we possess, and work to establish a high-quality day-care center as soon as possible.