Melina Rokaya (4 years) lives with her parents in the remote village of Kanda in Bajura District. In 2015, at three years of age, her parents put her in the local Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) called Shanti Bal Bikas Kendra, established in 2005 with material and labor contribution from the community.
In a dismal room, twenty-eight children including Melina had to sit on the cold wooden benches meant for big children from 10 am -1 pm every day. On top of it, the available furniture was inadequate.
Playthings and teaching-learning materials were lacking at the ECDC and they had to borrow them from a secondary school close by. Belu Chandra Singh, the facilitator who is with the center since its establishment relates, “I had no child-friendly teaching techniques at my disposal. All I knew was lecturing, rote-memorization, and a few local games. Day in and day out, I would make them chant English/Nepali alphabets and numbers. That was it.”
The principal of the adjacent school remarked, “the children did not attend the ECDC regularly, which was obvious given its sorry state”.
GNI Nepal through its implementing partner constructed a child-friendly ECDC building having one room each for play, lunch, and office along with clean drinking water facility and gender sensitive toilets. Training to the early childhood development (ECD) facilitators and ECD kits were also provided. Now the facilitators teach the children based on the six corner learning approach as specified in the ECD Curriculum, 2062.
About the changes that the support has brought, Belu Chandra says, “Compared to the past, children learn quickly. Thanks to the training we received, ECD kits and well-furnished playroom”.
Now Melina and her friends happily spend their day playing games, singing songs, learning alphabets and numbers, and expressing themselves through creative arts. As a result of the improved status of the center, all eligible children regularly attend the center, quite contrary to the situation a year ago.
Speaking at a district level program, Manbir Khati, Resource Person, District Education Office Bajura appreciated the center saying, “out of the 223 ECD centers in Bajura, Shanti Bal Bikas Kendra can be ranked number one for the facilities and quality teaching available there”.