During a recent visit education minister, Norbu Wangchuk, promised the people of Gangkhar village in Udzorong gewog to open its first early childcare and development (ECCD) centre in the village.

An outreach clinic in the village has been identified as the ECCD center. It was learnt that the inauguration of the centre is scheduled for tomorrow.

The public welcomed the immediate action from the minister.

Tshering Lhamo, 42, said she had only heard of the benefits of such facilities from her friends in other gewogs. “I’m excited since I can see my child learn and socialise at the same time,” she said. “It is difficult to do household chores and at the same time provide quality care to your child.”

The mother of three said that the centre would be of major benefit to those mothers who currently have to go to field carrying their babies. “While we can focus on our own works, our children would be learning and growing which is compromised without such a facility currently.”

Another parent however, shared mixed feelings about the establishment of the centre. “While I would like my two daughters to go to the centre, I’m doubtful if they would be safe there,” said Sonam Jamtsho. “I’m not sure if a single instructor would be able to look after 10 to 15 children at once.”

The 36-year-old father of four also questioned the intention of the initiative. “With the elections nearing, we are skeptical of this move from the minister,” he said. “We are not sure if the centre would be sustainable in the long run and this worries us with the future of our kids.”

Village tshogpa, Sonam Tenzin, said that the minister on July 10 met with the people of the village and asked for the number of children between the age of two and five.

A total of 14 children were listed.

“Lyonpo said that the children in the village have to be nurtured from an early age which is why they would require an ECCD centre,” said the tshogpa. “Lyonpo said that he would provide an LPG cylinder, water boiler, rice cooker and food for the children at the centre.”

Meanwhile, some of the villagers questioned the timing of the initiative. Requesting anonymity, a resident said, “Lyonpo has visited the village only twice so far – once during the campaign period and the recent one when the elections are nearing,” he said. “Making such promises only increases our suspicion.”

It was learnt that the minster would be there to inaugurate the opening of the ECCD center tomorrow.

Younten Tshedup | Udzorong