Early Childhood Development programme
After failed lone efforts, ministries to work jointly
KATHMANDU, SEP 23 -
Given the failure of government agencies to separately implement programmes for Early Childhood Development ( ECD ), four of the concerned ministries have agreed to take an integrated approach.
The Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoCSW) and the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) have been individually launching programmes targeting children below five years of age. However, a meeting of secretaries and high-level officials from the four ministries and the National Planning Commission at Singha Durbar in the presence of Chief Secretary Lilamani Poudel on Friday agreed to create a basket-fund and adopt one-door policy in ECD investments.
Presently, the MoE is running 29,073 ECD centres while the MoCSW, MoFALD and the MoHP have invested around five percent of their total budget for children in ECD programmes. Additionally, scores of I/NGOs have also made great investments in this sector.
“The four ministries have realised that an integrated approach will leave more of an impact,” said Sita Poudel, former lawmaker and ECD Caucus chairperson, who was present at the meeting. Although the international ECD cut-off is eight years of age, Nepal has only categorised three- and four-year-old children.
The government has set a target enrollment of 86 percent by 2015, which is currently at 74 percent. A total of 1.06 million children have been studying in ECD classes, of which 183,310 are Dalits and 384,186 Janajatis. “The government has set an ambitious target of increasing the rate of student enrollment in Grade 1 after ECD classes to 80 percent from the current 54.4 percent,” said Rajya Laxmi Nakarmi, ECD programme chief at the Department of Education.
A recent study by various NGOs revealed that only 35 percent ECD classes fulfil the required criteria. The lack of a minimum salary for ECD educators and limited investments in class management and reading materials have hindered the quality of the programme. The MoE has been providing teachers a meagre Rs 2,400 in monthly salary and Rs 4,000 annually to manage classes.
Posted on: 2012-09-23 08:06