Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

Three-year-old Rigden is ready to join children of his age at an early childhood care and development (ECCD) center. However, there is no such facility in Nangkhar Goenpa, Trashiyangtse.

The nearest ECCD in Teotsho gewog is three kilometers away, in Tshangpuchen village. Picking and dropping him to the nearest ECCD meant abandoning the farm work for his parents.

The three-year-old spends his time playing with other children of his age in the dusty fields, often chasing each other.

With about 15 children, who have come of age to go to ECCD, Nangkhar goenpa is in dire need of an ECCD centre in the village.

Today, parents are either forced to carry their children to the field or leave them to play with others in the dust.

“We do not understand why we are not getting the ECCD centre while others already have. We don’t have a choice but to leave our kids in dusty fields,” a mother of one, Karma Yangki said.

She said that an ECCD centre in the village would benefit mothers in all the three villages. “It would also benefit the development of the child at an early age because the children get quality care and learning at the centre,” Karma said.

Karma Drupchu, a father of one, said that ECCD in Tshangpuchen is too far and that establishment of an ECCD centre at Nangkhar Goenpa would also benefit the Pangthang Goenpa and Nangkhar villages.

“Lack of such services and facilities in the villages could be one reason why people are migrating from their villages because they could give quality and better education to their children in the towns,” he said.

Most parents said there is a stark difference in children who attend ECCD and those who don’t. “By the time they are ready for the school, they already know the basic and are more confident,” Sonam Tashi, a father of three said.

Villagers have also raised the issue with gewog administration through their tshogpa but haven’t heard from the gewog. “Had there been a centre, parents could not only focus more on  their  farms  but  also  give  early education to their child,” one of the parents said.

Teotsho gup, Dechen Wangdi, said the gewog administration had informed all the chiwog tshogpas to submit the list of the children aged between three and five. Except for Jangphu chiwog, others have not submitted a list until now.

For a chiwog to be eligible to get an ECCD, he said there should be at least 15 children. He added that the gewog administration would render full support if any of the chiwogs qualifies. “We will write to the dzongkhag education department and we hope they would also support us.”

The gup said ECCD centres would be established in all the chiwogs in the 12th Plan. Two chiwogs of Tshangpuchen and Kheni already have an ECCD each, one in Jangphutse would be established soon as the budget is approved.