Four months after the inauguration of Tshalumaphey Early Childhood Care Development (ECCD) Centre in Thimphu, the Centre is yet to open.

The ECCD for low-income groups in and around Tshalumaphey was announced earlier to open by March.

A Thimphu thromde education official said the opening of ECCD depended on the recruitment of ECCD instructors. The thromde tried to recruit instructors as opening of the centre was necessary but RCSC advised them that as the thromde is under local government, the recruitment had to be from RCSC.

The centre can accommodate 60 children. Thromde officials said for every 15 children one instructor was required. “We received 45 applicants so we need at least three instructors.”

The Tshalumaphey ECCD also caters to the Olarongchu automobile workshop area where women are seen working with their infants strapped to their backs or setting them in a corner of their workplaces.

An employee at a workshop, Sushma Biswa said, “Every building in the area has a similar story to tell. Most children of employees grew up in the workshop without going to ECCD centres.”

Mangal Maya Subba said employees were excited when the ECCD was inaugurated. She has two children including a 4-year-old. “ I hope I can send the younger one to the ECCD,” she said.

Though some employees earn more than Nu 20,000 there are many others working in the workshops earning between Nu 8,000 and Nu 12,000.

A single mother, Phuntsho Wangmo, earns Nu 10,000 at the workshop. “My two-year-old stays in Paro with my parents because I cannot afford to send her to a private ECCD.”

She said she hoped that when her daughter turns three, she could enroll her in the Tshalumaphey ECCD.

Sushma Biswa said it was risky to raise children in a workshop area but they have no choice. “We are aware that pollutants from the workshop are harmful for children.”

A worker in a workshop, Anjana Gurung has been raising her three-year-old toddler since she was three months old. “We get maternity leave for three months and after that most children are raised here at the workshop.”

A thromde official said thromde’s assessment showed that the area needed a government ECCD. “First priority will be given to the children of Olakha workshop employees and if there are more vacant seats then children of other low-income groups in the area will be considered.”

Excluding Tshalumaphey ECCD, there are three other government ECCDs in the thromde: Motithang, Royal Bhutan Police compound, and the Centenary Farmers’ Market.

The thromde official said applicants would be screened and only children of low-income groups in the catchment area would be eligible. “Children in other areas belonging to low-income groups can apply if there is a vacancy.”

By Yangyel Lhaden 

Edited by Tshering Palden