Quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres for all children
Early childhood is the time in every person’s life that lays the foundation for growth, learning and development for the future and ninety per cent of the brain development takes place in the first five years. At this time it is extremely important for all children to get enough opportunities to gain knowledge through exploration and interaction with their family members and peers. In Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers, they are provided with opportunities to learn through stories, songs, dance and games based on child-centered learning methods according to their age and interest. In Nepal these centers play an important role in the transition to school, resulting in higher promotion rates at Grade 1 and lower dropout rates later on. Research has shown that children with ECD experience not only have higher literacy and numeracy skills, but also demonstrate enhanced social skills.
In recent years there has been an impressive expansion of ECD in Nepal. The gross enrolment rate has increased rapidly: from 39.4% in 2004 to 72.9% children (73.1% girls, 74.3% boys) in 2011. Data reveals that in the 34,174 ECD centers a total of 1,053,054 children are enrolled (506,731 girls) (MOE, Flash report 2012/13). However, these figures do not provide information on the actual learning situation of children and the quality of services. Field visits have shown that a relatively high number of under- and over-aged children are enrolled and it is also observed that children of grade one and ECD age are learning together in one room (with more than 30 boys and girls around). But children of grade one and ECD age have different requirements and facilitators lack the technical skills and knowledge to address the psychosocial aspects of so many young children at the same time. Combined with resource constraints and poor sanitation facilities there seems to be an overall poor quality of ECD centers in many cases, but no baseline data is available so far.All this is hampering the holistic development of children.
Information on the situation in ECD centers should be collected regularly (twice per school year?) and maintained in a centralized database. This would be needed to monitor the quality of ECD services and to inform further government and UNICEF activities.
Data could be collected on for example:
· -Name and location of each centre in a district
· -Type of each ECD centre (school based, community based, private)
· -Number of schools having separate ECD room
· -Toilet facilities available
· -Number, age, sex, ethnicity of all children per center
· -Number of facilitators per center
· -Number of ECD centres providing mid-day meal
· -Children in the centres obtained birth registration
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