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Status of ECCD Programs in Bhutan using Pre-Primary Sector Analysis Tools - Pema Thinley
Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) is a term for the holistic development of children including physical, cognitive, language, social, and emotional development from conception to age 8. With ECCD being critical and essential, Bhutan has launched ECCD programming for more than a decade. This report aimed to explore the status of the ECCD program in the country, focusing on the five core functions that ensure an enabling environment as highlighted in Tool 2.2 Pre-primary Subsector Analysis of the ECE Accelerator toolkit. The report used a mixed-method strategy, both qualitative and quantitative. The report used a purposive sampling method to select the participants. For quantitative data, surveys were conducted via an online questionnaire, and for qualitative data, face-to-face interviews were conducted. The survey questionnaires were administered to the ECCD facilitators, district education officers (DEOs), program officers, and parent school principals. The report used descriptive statistics, a thematic analysis approach, and later employed a triangulation approach which enabled comparing, contrasting, and validating findings from quantitative and qualitative data.
Results showed that ECCD in Bhutan is performing adequately and there are not many significant challenges. Planning and budgeting are also consultatively conducted, and curriculum and necessary guiding documents are also in place. The ECCD programming was found to be widely engaging with parents and communities. For quality assurance and workforce development, numerous interventions have been instituted, yet fail to fill the gap with initiatives including training focal monitoring officials and giving continuous professional development (CPD) to ECCD facilitators. Demonstrative of an enabling environment, the results indicated that there is a lead ministry in the government overseeing the program. However, the ministry is faced with limited human resources to effectively spearhead implementation. Despite progress made, there exist major challenges of limited perennial, dedicated financing for the program, and lack of concrete ECCD policy and education policy to enable smooth functioning of the program in the country. The report findings recommend exploring dedicated financing for ECCD program development, and endorsement of education policy, strengthening CPD for facilitators, training monitoring officials, and enhancing multi- sectoral input for ECCD programming in the country.