More childcare centres in villages soon

Renu Kshetry

Kathmandu, May 1:

The Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) is planning to establish 25 per cent of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres in the remote areas of the country. Previously, more and more ECD centres were established in the headquarters.

The National Plan of Action (NPA) aims to establish 74,000 ECD centres by 2015 and Education For All 2004-09 expects to establish 13,000 ECD centres in the programme period.

The NPA has recognised the ECD as a major component and has made cost estimates of Rs 6,099 million for establishing ECD centres.

"ECD programmes have a pro-poor effect as they free parents to pursue income-generating activities and help prevent under-age enrolment in schools," said Bidyadhar Mallik, secretary, MoES. "The government will provide financial support to these centres."

"While providing financial support, special attention will be given to the children from high risk groups such as street children, orphans, disabled children, child labourers and Dalit children, disadvantaged and Kamaiya families," said Mallik.

ECD centres are meant to provide stimulating and friendly learning environment to enable children to develop their optimum potential and facilitate the process of their holistic development.

A recent study by Save the Children on the impact on the promotion rate for children with ECD experience in grade one was 83 per cent compared to 42 per cent for those without the ECD experience. Similarly, the repetition rate for children with ECD experience was only 6 per cent compared to 37 per cent for those without, and the dropout rate for children with ECD experience was only 11 per cent compared to 22 per cent for those without it.

For the rapid expansion of ECD centres, MoES is planning to form a Children Development Council under the chairmanship of education secretary.

Dr Shreeman Lamichhane, assistant professor at the Research Centre for Educational Innovation and Development, said researches are being carried out for the expansion of ECD centres.