UNICEF Set Up First Ever Early Childhood Care and Development Centre In Lungo, A Remote Village In Bhutan’s Highlands

Email

UNICEF and Bhutan’s Education Ministry inaugurated the Early Childhood Care and Development Centre on April 10 this year.

(Source: Facebook/UNICEF Bhutan)

 

By Tshering Business Bhutan

In a bid to provide equal educational services and opportunities across the country, a centre for Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) was inaugurated early this month in Lungo, a village in Laya.

Lungo is one of the most remote settlements in Bhutan, situated at almost 4,000 meters above sea level. As there is no road to Lungo, people have to trek for two days just to get to Laya gewog and then to Lungo village.

UNICEF and Bhutan’s Education Ministry inaugurated the centre on April 10 this year. Since then, more than 15 nomadic children (ages ranging from 3 to 5) from this far-flung village surrounded by snow-capped mountains and yaks, have already spent time at the ECCD centre.

This is the first time that an ECCD centre has been set-up at such a remote community, at a high altitude, where the temperature can drop to minus -6 degree Celsius even during spring time.

Purpose of establishing an ECCD centre in Lungo

UNICEF Bhutan’s Representative Rudolf Schwenk said, “This is in fact a perfect example of ‘reaching the last mile’. For us, every child is important. A child in Lungo should have access to the same services and opportunities as a child living in Thimphu. The establishment of the ECCD centre is a testimony to that commitment.”

 

Photo: Facebook/UNICEF Bhutan

 

Meanwhile, the centre was built with support from both UNICEF and the local community. Since its inception, children and families come to learn, share and play together from 9am until 2pm. The centre caters to 64 households with a catchment area of three villages, including Lungo.

“We start the day at nine in the morning with a welcome song, meditation and we have a session called the question of the day. Then we have mind training which is followed by a break for learning area. And they do social activities and we have various other activities such as storytelling, nap time,” Kinley Om, the centre’s facilitator, said.

Pego, a 32-year-old mother to one of the children attending the ECCD centre for the first time, said that they are very happy that the children can come together, play, interact with each other and learn.

She said that the children usually followed their parents to herd yaks, moving from one pasture to another and did not have the opportunity to interact and play with other children.

“We are also so busy with our work that we could hardly give them quality time,” Pego added.

Importance of early childhood education

UNICEF and the Education Ministry carried out a study on ‘Early Childhood Care and Development in Bhutan: A Case for Investment’ in 2017, which presented a compelling case for the need to increasingly invest in ECCD programs with emphasis on quality, equity and sustainability.

 

 Photo: Facebook/UNICEF Bhutan

 

According to the report, a child’s most important steps happen before they set foot in a primary school. By their fifth birthday, children’s brains are already 90% developed.

“This makes a child’s early years a critical window of opportunity – to set the foundations for life-long success, first at school, and later in life,” states the media release from UNICEF Bhutan.

Meanwhile, ECCD services in Bhutan have increased from 3% in 2011 to more than 23% in 2018. On average, 1,000 new children gained access to ECCD centres each year in the past five years.

However, UNICEF Bhutan maintains that much remains to be done as only one in every four young children in Bhutan is enrolled in pre-primary education or ECCD centres, which is also  the case in other low-income countries.

The Education Ministry’s ECCD focal person, Karma Gayleg said, “We hope to be able to provide access to 50% of all children aged 3 to 5 by 2024 and 100% by 2030. So, if we are able to achieve this target, we would have made substantial contribution to our children’s development and preparation for school.”

He added, “And as a nation that promotes Gross National Happiness, it is our duty to ensure that all children have a good start in life and that all children can develop their full potential.”

 

Photo: Facebook/UNICEF Bhutan

 

In a transformational shift this year, UNICEF in partnership with the Education Ministry is trying to set up a multi-sectoral ECCD committee and strategic plan to influence upstream policy making.

UNICEF and its partners are also exploring alternative models of ECCD and not a centre-based approach alone, in order to reach out to every child.

Rudolf Schwenk said that UNICEF will continue to work together with partners in Bhutan to ensure the best start in life for every child will not just be fulfilled in Lungo or Laya, but in every part of Bhutan.

“It is a moral obligation that children in remote areas like in Lungo have the same opportunities as the children in Thimphu or in Punakha. I think that is also very important for the future of Bhutan to strengthen its human capital, the cognitive capital for a country that has limited natural resources I think this is the best strategy and the best way to invest resources,” he added.

 

This article first appeared in Business Bhutan and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.

 


Related Posts

Meet Gomchen Wangchuk - Recognised By UNICEF As The Man Who...

Together with support from the Bhutanese government, Bhutan Salt Enterprises (BSE) contributed to IDD-elimination.

May 27, 2018 20:16

Cordyceps Collection, Early Marriage And Other Factors Cause...

Mr Thinley Rabgay from the Laya Central School conducted a research with a sample size of 200 collected from the...

Nov 01, 2018 16:57

Laya Central School Faces Infrastructure Constraints For Its...

The current infrastructure that caters to classes up to the eighth grade was built more than two decades ago.

Nov 15, 2018 13:54

Pilot Project By Save The Children On ‘Care For Child Development...

Save the Children International and the Health Ministry of Bhutan pilot-tested the C4CD Plus programme in Punakha and...

Dec 23, 2018 12:48

Drukair Launches Educational Outreach Program For Less Privileged...

This program which started in 2018, with support from the Gyalpoi Zimpon’s Office and the Royal Embassy of Bhutan in...

Jan 01, 2019 23:35

More Than Just Exoticism, The Royal Highland Festival In Laya...

The heart of the festival celebrates the highlanders’ unique and beautiful clothing, dance, music, handicrafts, food,...

Oct 07, 2018 09:07

Latest

News

Essilor To Donate 400,000 Pairs Of Eyeglasses To Help Reduce Poor Vision In Bhutan

“The donation consists of glasses for the correction of refractive errors as well as sunglasses which will be distributed to the Bhutanese...

May 23, 2019 18:02

International Climate Initiative and WWF Germany To Support Living Landscapes Project In Bhutan

A team from WWF Bhutan and Germany visited seven of the nine targeted districts in the country’s Southwestern region to plan the project.

May 22, 2019 11:48

Features

Craftsmen To Revive Dying Art Of Bamboo Craft In The Village Of Orong, Bhutan

Two decades ago, the community’s bamboo artisans used to make bamboo crafts for household purposes, however this form of traditional art...

May 26, 2019 16:58

Haven For Flora And Fauna, Bhutan Is Host To More Than 11,000 Species Of Biodiversity

The biodiversity statistics of Bhutan 2017 is the first publication presenting accurate and up to date status of the country’s biodiversity.

May 25, 2019 15:58

Sports

Meet Choki Om – First Woman From Bhutan To Become A FIFA Referee

Originally from the district of Wangdue, Choki has already been a referee for over a decade.

May 16, 2019 20:58

First Ever Paralympics Day Held In Bhutan To Remove Social Stigma Towards People With Disabilities

With the motto, “Come out and play”, the committee also planned to eliminate social stigma towards people with disabilities through sports.

Apr 29, 2019 23:58

Business

Celebrating Bhutan's Entrepreneurs: Sonam Pelden Of Mudra

This story is part of an exclusive feature by Yeewong Magazine in Dec 2018 on celebrating entrepreneurship in Bhutan.

May 15, 2019 19:38

Making Money Out Of Thrash - Meet Bhutan’s Winner Of The SAARC Women Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018 Award

Chogyal Lhamo collects waste and turn them into useful items such as bags, containers and dust-bins for sale.

May 04, 2019 23:58

Travel

Resotration Of The Yongla Goenpa In Pemagatshel, Bhutan Finally Completed

Considered as one of the most sacred goenpas that protects the security of the country, the Goenpa also serves as the residence of the...

May 21, 2019 22:48

Jigme Namgyel Naktshang - Ancestral Home Of The Wangchuck Dynasty, To Be Turned Into A Museum

Two famed figures in the history of Bhutan, Pila Goenpo Wangyel and Pala Gyeltshen were also born in Dungkar Choeje Lhakhang.

May 08, 2019 22:28

Lifestyle

Food Review: Cloud9 Cafe & Bar

Cloud9 has always been known in Thimphu for dishing out handcrafted gourmet burgers.

Mar 09, 2019 09:44

Tshering Zangmo Represents Bhutan At The 5th Young Chef Olympiad In India

Tshering Zangmo has successfully made it to round two of the Olympiad.

Feb 04, 2019 16:35

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!