Children in Bhutan can only when they attain six years old be enrolled in a regular government school. Enrollment age policy is strictly implemented even at places where there are not many children attending schools. This is the case especially in the rural villages. It is shown that children learn fast and pick up things quick in their formative years. But there are many private individuals who run daycare centers in towns like Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Paro whereas children in the remote areas have to idly wait until they attain the minimum age requirement to enroll in schools for they do not have facilities like their urban counterparts.
Ura community in Bumthang District was going through a similar phase as so many communities in the rural areas until Loden Foundation, a Charity NGO based in Thimphu decided to open a Loden Early Learning Center at Ura in 2008.
“Our Daycare Center aims to give children in the remote areas an equal opportunity like the children in the urban centers,” says an official from Loden Foundation. “There are many daycare centers and kindergartens in the cities, but no places for early child development and learning in rural parts of Bhutan.
|Chokey Gyeltshen with his friends|
Loden Foundation’s Early Learning Daycare Center is located in the same building, which also houses READ Bhutan’s Aurbay Sershong Payzothkhang (ASSP). “We collaborate with the Daycare center for numerous activities,” says Kezang Choden, Program Officer of READ Bhutan. “Because these children are the ultimate beneficiary of our center, where they are provided with reading materials in our library, computers in ICT Section, and Audiovisual Section, etc. And most important of all, most of our program focus are towards childhood development, education and literacy, among many others.”
Tshering Choden (6 years old) and Chokey Gyeltshen (6 years old), are two of the many students who benefitted from the Loden Early Learning Center and today they are admitted in Ura Middle Secondary School in preprimary classes (PP). The students enjoy more advantages for having had the chance to attend daycare center before they are admitted in a regular school.
|Tshering Choden in her classrooom|
According to the teachers at Ura MSS, “Students coming from Daycare Center are well organized and mannered. They tend to have good rapport with each other and teachers too.” Teachers also feel that those children who come from Daycare are ahead of in terms of reading and other basics compared to those who never went to daycare. Moreover, “Students from Daycare are extrovert whereas their counterparts hesitate to talk and take part in class activities.”
READ Bhutan would like to congratulate Tshering and Chokey, and all their friends who are doing quite well in regular school today. READ Bhutan feels proud to have been associated in their growth, maturity and development.
(Note: This piece was written for READ Bhutan monthly report and I had to post it here since my good friend - Japchu - thinks that I am totally betraying my blog. It pains my heart too. This is to apologize those who had to periodically open my blog only to find the same articles again and again. Sorry!)