Education: Children of vendors and local farmers at the centenary farmers market will soon receive better care.

A community-based early childhood care and development (ECCD) centre will open at the Centenary Farmers Market today.

Ministry of Education and Thromde Education Office established the centre with support from UNICEF.

A total of 31 children aged between three and five have been enrolled as the first batch of ECCD learners at the centre.

There are more than 430 vendors at the Centenary Farmers Market every Wednesday to Monday. Many of them are accompanied by their children, some of them as young as three years old.

The farmers’ market is open for six days a week from 6.00am to 8.00pm. Many young children are seen playing and running around the walkways and stairs, while their parents are busy attending to customers.

ECCD was, therefore, at the market to have a proper and dedicated space where these children can play and learn.

There are a total of 251 ECCD centres across the country benefitting some 5,000 children in rural and remote areas. UNICEF has supported the establishment of 168 of these community-based ECCD centres.

The purpose of such programmes is more to serve childcare needs of working parents than early stimulation and learning.

Studies revealed significant benefits of ECCD programmes to children’s developmental outcomes in terms of their school readiness and lifelong capabilities and productivity.

The concept of early education and childcare, as outside the home interventions, was not known until 2005, when the first of the so-called daycare centres were approved by the government for private operation in the urban districts.

At every daycare centre, children are made to take off their shoes, get in line, eat their own snacks or lunch, clean their tables after eating and put back their lunch baskets on the hangers outside the classrooms.

Apart from that, the kids are also taught Dzongkha, how to speak softly, ask permission before taking things and putting back toys after playing with them among others.

The objective of every daycare is to groom the children for school.

Staff Reporter