A year after its closure, Early Childhood Care and Development centres are now open in Bhutan
With all safety measures in place.
A year after remaining closed, almost all Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Centres across the country have today reopened.
To prepare for the reopening and to ensure the safety of children, ECCD facilitators arranged handwashing facilities and readied the centres.
Deki Yangzom, a facilitator at Petari ECCD centre in Punakha district said she supervised the maintenance of outdoor facilities, the ceiling and the centre’s walls. The structure earlier functioned as an out-reach clinic.
“We also bought buckets to make tippy taps to improve children’s access to handwashing,” she said adding that she also personally buys soaps for the centre.
Located about 25 kms away from Punakha dzong, the centre has 14 children.
At Damji ECCD centre in the nearby district of Gasa, facilitator Sangay Wangzom said they made playing corners for its children to play in groups and arranged buckets to make tippy taps. Sangay and her co-facilitator Tshering Lhamo also sought the health-in charge’s advice on the use of masks for children.
“We were told that masks were not recommended for children below six years and so asked children to come with handkerchiefs,” Sangay said.
All 17 children at the centre were enrolled this year and the former batch that the facilitators reached through home visits are now in school. “For us and the children, it is much better when the centre is open. There is more interaction and children learn better at the centre,” she said.
Tshering Yangden, who has enrolled both her children at the centre agrees. “Children learn, play and make friends at the centre unlike at home where they are on the phone or watching television. As a parent as well, it is easier for us to bring up the children when they attend ECCD.”
The children are equally happy.
“I like coming to the ECCD to play,” said four-year-old Jamyang Shengden while her friend, Sonam Lhazin Dolma,4, said she loves it when her mother takes her to the centre. “At the centre, I play, eat and watch TV.”
To support the reopening of ECCD centres, UNICEF provided soaps, disinfectants and posters on COVID-19 safety measures to all 500 community ECCD centre across the country.
“The soaps would benefit the children and would last us the whole year,” said the facilitator of Yangthang ECCD centre in Haa, Tshering Wangmo.
Like her fellow facilitators, Tshering also prepared for the centre’s reopening on March 1. “I brought along a carpenter to fix the flooring, prepared teaching aids and tippy taps,” she said. “We also marked the seating with duct tapes so that children can maintain some distance at the centre.”
UNICEF Bhutan’s Deputy Representative, Marie-Consolée Mukangendo lauded the reopening of ECCD centres across the country and reiterated UNICEF’s support to early childhood care and development. “UNICEF is happy to support the reopening of ECCD centres and give every child the best start in life.”