Thursday, November 15, 2012

First ever National Seminar on Early Childhood Care and Development

The first ever National Seminar on Early Childhood Care and Development ended on 12th November, 2012 at Paro College of Education. The focus of the seminar was on Holistic Early Childhood Care and Development: The first step in realizing Gross National Happiness.

     The seminar presented opportunities for participants to exchange constructive dialogues about ECCD knowledge and understanding of an importance of ECCD, it provided an avenue for different stakeholders in ECCD to share their work,  it was to educate an sensitize the policy makers and leaders and legislators in formalizing ECCD as a national education  agenda, and to bring together the local experts and experts in the region on a common plate form for sharing the best practices of ECCD.
      More than 200 participants’ including principals, DEOs, ADEOs from twenty dzongkhag, health workers, early learning centre facilitators from Paro and Thimphu, lecturers from two Education Colleges and student teachers of Paro College, attended the two days Seminar.
     The opening ceremony was graced by His Excellency, the Minister of Education, Lyonpo Thakur Singh Powdyel, on 11th November, 2012 coinciding with the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty, the Fourth Druk Gyelpo, Jigme Singey Wangchuk and Children’s day. Also present were the Madam, Claire Van der Vaeren Resident coordinator of United Nation Development Programme, Mr. Eric Durpaire, Deputy Representative and the officiating Representative of UNICEF, Mr. Ghalley County Director  of save the children, Mr. Kinley Gyeltshen, Chief programme officer of ECCD and SEN Division, Managing Director of DAHE, and Directors of RIHS, PCE and SCE     His Excellency, in opening speech highlighted that, “The only viable wealth that we have is our people,  it is imperative to build our human capacity at all level, but the best place to begin is early childhood because this is where most mental and physical development takes place”      His Excellency further added that, “Children are our collective responsibility- involving the parents, state institutions, non-governmental and civil society organizations, the media, the judiciary, law enforcement agencies and volunteer groups- given the critical importance of children as the custodians of our future”.           

Mrs. Purushottani Bhanda, one of the participants from Yebilaptsa Hospital said “the seminar enhanced my knowledge on upbringing children from the day of conception to 8 years old”     Another participant, Mr. Kinley Penjor, from Sarpang Hospital said “It was quiet a relevant seminar from my professional perspective, as people like me are in the frontline interacting with children’s health needs, which includes all the aspect of physical, emotional and psychological”. He added “the seminar enhanced my knowledge and understanding on the importance of young child’s need”.  Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) refer to services provided to caregivers as well as children aged 0-8 years old. The services include pre-natal and neonatal health care, organized early stimulation and learning through early childhood care and development centres- private, community and workplace. ECCD is a fairly new concept in Bhutan. It all began when Royal Government of Bhutan allowed private entrepreneurs to establish private primary schools in late 1990’s. These private schools had nursery classes which catered to young children between ages 3-5 years.
     The seminar was organized by Paro College of Education with financial support from UNICEF, save the children, Ministry of Education and Royal University of Bhutan.