More than 500 educationists attended an early childhood care and development (ECCD) festival held in Mongar for three days from November 11.

Education ministry’s ECCD programme coordinator, Karma Galey, said the festival was organised to raise awareness to the general public.

Local and community leaders, teachers and ECCD instructors attended the festival.

He said that although they implemented the ECCD programme over a decade, there is not much awareness among the people and leaders at the grassroots level, particularly awareness related to the importance and benefits of early childhood and services provided by the centre.

Karma Galey said that many people still tend to think that the primary objectives of ECCD are to ease parents of childcare to gain more work time but in fact, that is a secondary objective.

“The primary objectives of ECCD is to help the child develop the potential by providing opportunity and in helping parents and families to improve their parenting practices,” he said.

The coordinator explained that one of the biggest challenges the education ministry is facing is quality monitoring. “Although we have a monitoring system, tools and mechanism in place, sometimes there are gaps in implementation due to a shortage of manpower both at the ministry and dzongkhag.”

An instructor from Thimphu, Kelzang Choki, said through the annual festival, the instructors learn lots of teaching methods since each dzongkhag demonstrated their teaching style.

The ECCD facilitators also shared their challenges. The instructors also said they lack training and support from parents.

An instructor from Chali gewog, Tendi Zangmo, said the centre lack good support from the parents and lack teaching materials for the kids.

Another instructor, Tshering Dema, 27, from Punakha dzongkhag said she joined as an instructor after completing class XII and without having any experience, knowledge and training, she faced lots of challenges to take care of the kids.

Another participant, Choki Dorji from Dewathang ECCD, Samdrupjongkhar, said that for child development, the government and thromde have to support financially.

Meanwhile, Mongar dzongkhag chief education officer, Wangchuk, said the festival was composed of presentation, education dialogue, discourse on ECCD innovation and research, ECCD material development and education, an exhibition on ECCD materials and child related programme and entertainment.

The education ministry, in particular, the ECCD and SEN division organised the event with financial support from UNICEF, Save the Children and the ministry.

Tashi Phuntsho  | Mongar