Education: The division for Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) and Special Educational Needs (SEN) with the Department of School Education coordinated a workshop on ECCD pedagogy based on “Step by Step Approaches” (SbS) in three regions, Trashigang, Gelephu and Phuentsholing from December 20-24, according to press release from the department.

A total of 200 preprimary (PP) teachers and education officers from 20 dzongkhags were trained.

The five-day training programme was based on the SbS method for integration of ECCD approaches in the PP classes in Bhutan. The programme is an expansion of the pilot training on the integration of an ECCD approach for the PP teachers piloted in ten schools of eight western dzongkhags in 2011 and its subsequent expansion to 20 dzongkhags since 2012.

The workshop aims to equip the PP teachers with knowledge and skills on ECCD approaches for integration of ECCD approaches to class PP as a school readiness programme. The programme is designed to develop teacher competencies to implement the early childhood approaches based on the SbS method to enable smooth transition of children from ECCD centres into schools.

The workshop follows the annual education statistics 2016, which stated that there is only 17.9 percent coverage of ECCD intervention for children aged three-five years.  Following the workshop, participants are expected to provide mentoring support to the ECCD facilitators of the community ECCD centres in their respective dzongkhags.

While a family based approach is one of the three chief strategies conceived for the early childhood care and development programme, ECCD and enhancement of knowledge and capacity of primary teachers and teaching learning practices are the other two approaches.  ECCD centres provide early learning opportunities primarily using community and work place based and private ECCD centres to prepare children for school by providing opportunities to develop social-emotional skills, cognitive and learning skills, health and physical development, language and communication skills.

The community ECCD programme is fully supported by the government with a strategic focus to enhance access to three years of ECCD intervention outside the school for children aged below six and above three years.

The third approach is enhancing the knowledge and capacity of primary school teachers to improve teaching-learning practices and environments in schools to ease the transition to school. The core team comprising of representatives from the Royal Education Council, education ministry and Royal University of Bhutan who will visit the pilot schools to provide support and mentor the PP teachers while education officers will provide professional support and administrative support to the teachers.

Staff reporter