The only government-run Early Child Care Development (ECCD) center in Phuentsholing is not open, as it has no facilitators to run it.
The Thromde Education Officer of Phuentsholing said the center is ready to operate, but due to lack of facilitators, the center remains closed. The ECCD center, located in a large space in the centenary market, was completed in August 2020.
The center can accommodate up to 60 children but due to current pandemic, the ECCD will enroll only 20-40 children, said the Thromde Education Officer. He also said children who attend such an ECCD center stand to better themselves as they make a transition to the primary school level. He said it would then benefit to the community as a whole. There are four private ECCD centers in Phuentsholing that are already operational this year.
Education Minister Jai Bir Rai said the Royal Civil Service Commission is in charge of the recruitment of facilitators for the ECCD centers. There are more than 500 government-run ECCD centers in the country, with additional 135 new ECCD centers to be added to the number.
The minister said the education ministry plans to get 80 percent ECCD coverage, and currently it is just at 25 percent. The ministry has set a target to increase the percentage to 30 to 40 percent in the 12th Five-Year-Plan. The ministry aims to set up more ECCD centers in rural parts of Bhutan as the urban areas have 100 percent coverage.
Karma Dorji, a vegetable vendor at the centenary market in Phuentsholing, said he was happy when he found out that a new government-run ECCD center was opening up in the market. He said it would be convenient for him to do the business and look after his children when he enrolls them in the ECCD center.
Similarly, another parent, Sonam Choda, said Phuentsholing Thromde has done a good job by opening up the government-run ECCD center. He said cannot afford to send his child to a private ECCD center. But now, with the government-run ECCD, his child will be able to learn and prepare for preschool.