MoE waits for govt. directive to open ECCD centers

As an interim measure to fight local transmission of COVID-19, the government has closed all ECCD centers and parents have been informed to hold on for the time being. However, due to the closure of ECCD centers, most of the parents are facing difficulty in going about their regular schedule.

Deki, a concerned parent said no one is there to look after her four-year-old daughter when she goes to office so she takes the child to the office and other times to her cousin’s place. “If I take her to office, it proves to be too much distraction.”

She admits that the closure of ECCD centers is a good measure by the government for the containment of COVID-19, but they are left with no alternatives when it comes to looking after their kids.

Sonam Zangmo, another mother, said she has a tough time managing time with her daughter as she has to head to office from nine in the morning and stays at work till six in the evening. She informed her parents about her predicament so they now stay with her to babysit. “I had to call my parents all the way from the village just to babysit. It was hard,” she said, “I hope the ECCD centers open soon.”

Karma Dema said when both partners have jobs, it is very difficult to take care of the children. Sometimes she keeps her five years old son with her neighbor who also has a child till office gets over. She said she was waiting for the centers to get open but since that does not seem likely, she has called her sister.

“It will be better if the government allows ECCD centers to open as soon as possible as I have seen the families struggle.”

Proprietor of Smiley ECCD said that she had started the center last winter and now she is in great loss.

“Due to the losses, I think I need to shut the center if the situation prolongs,” she said.

She said that she needs to pay her staff and due to lack of funds she was forced to let her staff apply for Royal Kidu for the second phase. Further, she also has to pay the rent. “I wonder how it is going to work next year.”

Officiating Director General of Ministry of Education (MoE), Kinley Gyeltshen said they are well aware of the issue. The ministry is waiting for government directive to allow the re-opening of private ECCD centers. “The guidelines on COVID-19 safety protocols were also distributed during the last re-opening of private ECCD centers,” he said.

He said that as per the press release from the Office of Prime Minister on September 10 regarding the re-opening of schools, colleges and institutions, there is nothing mentioned on opening of ECCD centers.

“The MoE therefore cannot assure any tentative datelines to open the private ECCD centers.”

“We agree that parents’ work is hampered as they have to look after their children. However, the opening of private ECCD centers will depend on government directive,” he said.

Tenzin Lhamo from thimphu