The significance of Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Centres cannot be understated. With 132 ECCD centres slated to open by October after being shuttered due to a lack of facilitators, we are taking a crucial stride towards ensuring a brighter future for our youngest citizens.

Bhutan’s demographic landscape is shifting. The decline in fertility rates over the years, plummeting from an average of six children per woman in 1982 to a mere 1.8 in the previous year, raises a red flag regarding the country’s population replacement rate. To sustain a healthy and dynamic society, Bhutan needs a fertility rate of at least 2.5 births per woman, a goal that ECCD centres can significantly contribute to achieving.

The early years of a child’s life are crucial for cognitive, social, and emotional development. High-quality ECCD programmes can provide a nurturing environment where children can develop essential skills, such as problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking. These skills not only lay the foundation for a successful academic journey but also contribute to creating a workforce equipped to handle the challenges of a rapidly evolving global economy.

ECCD centres also promote gender equality by giving women the opportunity to participate more actively in the workforce. When parents have access to reliable and high-quality childcare services, it becomes easier for them to pursue education and employment, leading to increased financial stability for families and enhanced gender parity. This, in turn, fuels economic growth and empowers women to take on leadership roles in various sectors, driving progress at both individual and societal levels.

Children who receive quality early education are more likely to excel in school, leading to higher educational attainment and future earning potential. This not only uplifts individuals and families but also strengthens the overall economic fabric of the nation.

We stand at a critical juncture where investing in ECCD centres is not just a choice, but also a necessity for securing a prosperous and sustainable future. These centres provide the foundation for children to grow into well-rounded individuals capable of contributing to their society and the global community. By aiming to achieve full ECCD enrolment by 2030, Bhutan is demonstrating its commitment to fostering a generation that will lead the nation towards growth, innovation, and resilience.

The government’s efforts to revitalise ECCD centres should be lauded, supported, and expanded upon.