MoE awaits directives from govt on reopening ECCDs

Some ECCD centers in Thimphu plan not to reopen until the COVID-19 pandemic is over

The ministry of Education (MoE) has put up a proposal to the government for reopening of ECCD centers in the country. MoE is waiting for the directives from the government on how to go ahead.

Meanwhile many of the proprietors of Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centers in Thimphu shared that they don’t want to open their ECCD Centers until the COVID-19 pandemic is over. They all shared that they don’t want to take risk and small children will not be able to follow health protocols.

Proprietor of Happy Feet ECCD center in Thimphu, Sonam said she is waiting for the government’s decision on whether to reopen ECCD or not. But right now it is not safe to reopen the ECCD center. However, she shared that after closing down her center she faced many challenges including paying rent of the center. She said if government allows to open centers then she might open.

She shared that she hardly had any children or new admission when she reopened her center on August. All parents are confused and worried for their children. However, if the situation is under control then she might decide to reopen her center and if not then close it for this year.

A proprietor of Smiley Day Care, Seday said, for now it is not very convenient to reopen the center with all the situation going around. “We never know what will happen, so I have decided to keep it closed for the safety of everyone and also I don’t want to take a risk.”

Closing the ECCD center for a long time has already caused her huge losses and she has to pay rent for the center as the house owner also cannot waive off the rent because that is also her sole income. She said her ECCD center was opened last year at the end of the month, so she had operated for few days only and it is in a total loss, said Seday.

“I will wait till January, 2021 and see how it will go and if the pandemic continues then I will have to totally shut down my ECCD center,” said Seday.

Similarly, Play and Learn ECCD center will be closed for this year because it will be difficult to manage small children to follow all the health protocols.

Proprietor Ugyen Lhaden said there were few parents who wanted the ECCD to be opened but the majority of parents expressed that they don’t want to take a risk.

Before the lockdown, 21 ECCD centers in Thimphu Thromde expressed desire to reopen.  4 were not interested to reopen. In Paro, all private centers wanted to reopen. In Punakha, only 1 of 2 wanted to open. In Wangdue, all 3 centers wanted to reopen. In Mongar all (2) centers wanted to reopen. In Phuentsholing, 3 wanted to reopen while 1 didn’t want to. In SJ, 1 of 2 wanted to reopen. In Pemagatshel, the only center wanted to reopen. In Sarpang 2 of 4 wanted to reopen. In Trashiyangtse, the only center wanted to reopen. The study was carried out by the MoE.

However, now with actual local transmission cases and a lockdown the scenario will be even more difficult for both the ECCDs and the parents and children.

The re-opening of private ECCD centers will be based on decision of individual centers and parents as announced by the PMO. Centers re-opening must follow COVID protocols and guidelines developed by the Ministry of Education.

There are a total of 471 ECCD centers in the country, with 903 Facilitator and 9,400 children enrolled as of March 2020.

There are 51 private ECCD centers and 196 ECCD Facilitators and 831 students aged 3 to 4 years.

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