Policy on early childhood development sought

KATHMANDU: Participants at a programme in the Capital today have stressed the need for formulating a policy on early childhood development (ECD), increasing budget and handing over the responsibility to run the ECD programmes to local bodies.

Early childhood begins from the time before a child is born and lasts upto five years of age. According to an estimate, around 12 per cent of the total population in the country is composed by children below five years of age.

Speaking at the programme organised by the Seto Gurans National Child Development Services with financial and technical assistance from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Chief Secretary Som Lal Subedi said that the responsibility to run the ECD should be handed over to local bodies in order to ensure happy and prosperous life of children and facilitate their growth as a whole.

He also pointed out the need for carrying out a study on the investment of budget in the ECD and its overall achievements made so far.

Likewise, Sita Kumari Paudel, Chairperson of the cooperation and coordination group of the Members of Parliament for the ECD, said that although the government's policies and programmes earlier presented failed to define the ECD clearly, the budget should be increased in the sector.

Another lawmaker Sita Luitel said that child development centers established for the welfare of children should focus on health, nutrition and sanitation of children.

Presently there are 3,400 ECDs centres in operation across the country, according to the Department of Education.