Early Childhood Development
There are currently more than 16,500 early childhood development (ECD) centres in Nepal, mainly in urban areas, with a gross enrolment rate of 60.2 per cent for 3–5 years olds. However, the level of awareness of the importance of ECD is still low, especially in the most disadvantaged communities. Caregivers often provide only limited and rudimentary psychosocial care to young children in the home environment, and parenting programmes only reach a small percentage of families. 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. This is particularly true for girls and children from disadvantaged households. The government has recently developed minimum standards for ECD centres, and these will be adopted in 2008.
• Support parenting education for caregivers of children aged 3–5 years in all DACAW areas.
Some 80 per cent of caregivers in UNICEF-supported settlements will be able to take actions that make a positive difference to the care, emotional support and psychosocial development of their young children, especially in disadvantaged communities. In addition, there will be an ECD centre in the most disadvantaged settlements of UNICEF-supported villages. This is expected to result in an increase in the gross enrolment rate of children aged 3–5 years from disadvantaged households at ECD centres. This will lead to an increase in the percentage of new entrants to Grade 1 with ECD experience, and a decrease in dropout and repetition rates.
Government and non-government ECD professionals and frontline workers will have enhanced technical skills for planning and implementing psychosocial care interventions at national, district and community levels.