ECD networks help in ensuring the quality of the centre in Tanahu of Nepal
By Ashma Shrestha Basnet
“Shikshya has never missed going to the ECD centre for the last year. She just loves being there,” said her grandmother. “Now she always washes her hands before she eats and she likes to keep herself neat and clean all the time,”
Today in Nepal there are about 24,700 ECD centres, community and school-based, with a gross enrolment rate of 60.2 per cent for 3–5 years olds. Research shows that ECD plays an important role in successful transition to school for children in Nepal, with higher promotion rates at Grade 1 and lower dropout rates. “Investment in the children is the best investment for better productivity,” said Khadga Bahadur Kamal, District Education Officer. “Giving children a good start at life is vital, so every one of us is concerned about it.”
ECD network ensures better quality of the centres
In Tanahu district, there are 314 ECD centres, established by the communities and schools under the support from District Education Office (DEO), UNICEF, and other development partners. To help ensure optimal functionality of the ECD centres, a district level network has been formed by the District Development Committee (DDC) under the leadership of Local Development Officer and with representation from village level networks.
“We work in partnership with local and non-government bodies to increase the access of quality ECD centres,” said Raghu Kafle, ECD Focal Person at the DDC. “We plan to establish at least one ECD centre in each ward by 2015 so that every child has an opportunity to attend the centres.”
At village level, local bodies and communities are taking the lead in forming a network to ensure better quality centres. The ECD network is led by the village secretary with representation from political parties, health and education sector workers, and other influential local people. “We meet once every three months to discuss the ongoing activities of ECD centres and the challenges they face,” said Keshab Prasad Bhattarai, coordinator of the network. “To upgrade the quality of these centres, they also conduct joint monitoring and develop strategies.”
The government provides nominal support for the functionality of the ECD centres nationwide, mainly the salary of the facilitators/teachers and some establishment cost. In Keshabtar village, the Village Development Committee (VDC) further tops up the funding together with the financial support from the community. “We are now looking at how we can make our ECD centres sustainable while ensuring their quality,” added Mr. Bhattarai.
The network hopes that once the children are enrolled in ECD centres and experience the joyful, learning environment that they provide, they will continue further with their education.