An early child­hood care and de­vel­op­ment for veg­etable ven­dors in Thim­phu

Bhutan Times - - Home - Lhakpa Tsh­er­ing

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.

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