Tarayana Buzip Programme (Early Childhood Care & Development Programme –ECCD)
Pre-school-aged children are an especially vulnerable group: they are not eligible to be enrolled in school yet, and are in a formative period in life that will prove decisive for their future physical and mental health. Their parents, who labour long hours in the fields, are often compelled to leave these children at home unsupervised – an arrangement that is not conducive to optimum social and intellectual development, and also exposes the children to real dangers. Though reports of such practices poured in from all parts of Bhutan, it was the sight of a five year old boy tied to the window sill that prompted Tarayana to jump-start the Buzip Programme.
The Buzip/ Early Childhood care & Development (ECCD) Programme has made two-pronged impacts. Firstly, the programme provided reliable child-care support and peace of mind to parents in rural communities. This contribution has been especially valuable for young women, who as a consequence empowered to pursue income-generating activities, training opportunities, and outlets for more active engagement with local governance. Secondly, it has given young children the opportunity to reach their full potential in terms of cognitive, social, and physical development by creating an accessible space where it is safe and fun to learn. Fostering positive experiences early on will ensure that these children will be fully prepared to enter the formal academic system, and greatly improves their likelihood of future success. Being embedded in local communities and employing local young women, the Programme is above all a fundamentally sustainable initiative, which holds the promise of promoting social solidarity as well as providing invaluable social services.
Through this Programme, thirty-one daycare centres staffed by thirty-nine trained facilitators as of December 2015, are thriving in villages across Bhutan. They have been well received by the communities and local school teachers who mentor the young souls in their pursuit of formal education. These centres are established in seven different Dzongkhags of Bhutan. five in Monggar, seven in Dagana, four in Zhemgang, four in Trongsa, three in Sarpang, two in Tsirang, one in Pemagatshel and five in Samtse. As we receive requests from different communities on a daily basis, our hope is to fulfil the need for such day care services in all rural communities and provide vulnerable children with the same quality of care and educational opportunities as their urban peers.