An early childhood care and development for vegetable vendors in Thimphu
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Thimphu Thromde Education office under Ministry of Education opened an early childhood care and development (ECCD) centre at Thimphu centenary farmer’s market for the vendors last Monday.
UNICEF is a program initiated by United Nations to look after development of children and mothers in developing countries.
One of the world’s smallest and least devel- oped countries is based on agriculture which provides the main livelihood for more than 60 percent of the population in Bhutan. Agriculture consists largely of subsistence farming and animal husbandry. Thus, vegetable is the source of their income for living and large numbers of farmers are vendors in Thimphu.
Today there are more than 430 vendors selling their products at the centenary farmers market (CFM) from Wednesday till Sunday. The farmers’ market is open for five days a week from 6:00 am throughout the day till 8:00 pm. Many of the vendors are accompanied by their children and some of the children are as young as three.
Tshering Yangdon 22 years from Tashi Yangtse, a vegetable vendor in the centenary farmer’s market and a mother of two had brought her three years boy to the ECCD centre. She said, “With the two young children, I feel difficult when I come to the market. Now with the opening of an early childhood care and development it would definitely benefit me.” She further added that “I’ve a year old baby and she is looking after by my mother. Hereafter, when I come to the market, my three years old boy will be in the centre and that would further help me to engage in the business”. Hence, the children of vendors will be in the centre from Wednesday till Sunday when their parents go to the market to sell their vegetables.
While the vendors are busy attending to the customers their young children are seen playing and running around in the walkways and stairs. It is difficult situation for the vendors to look after their children at the same time they have to attend for the customers also. Thus they need to have a proper dedicate space where these children can play and learn. Therefore, for the beneficial of children and vendors, the Ministry of Education and Thimphu Thromde Education Office with funds and technical support from UNICEF, has established a community-based early childhood care and development (ECCD) centre.
A total of 31 children aged between 3-5 years of vendors and local farmers have been enrolled as the first batch of an early childhood care and development (ECCD) learners at centenary farmers market in ECCD centre. Currently there are 251 ECCD centers across the country benefiting some 5,000 children in rural and remote areas. UNICEF has supported the establishment of 168 of these community-based ECCD centers throughout the country.
The UNICEF resident representative in Bhutan Shaheen Nilofer inaugurated the centre and the center has been established with financial assistance of US$ 10,000.00 from UNICEF.