Inclusion Begins at Birth: A Model for Developing an Early Childhood Education Program for Rural Nepal

Michael J. Casey and Martina Casey, CFFN, Ottawa, Canada

Proceedings of Unfolding Futures: Nepalese Economy, Society, and Politics
Friday-Sunday, Octobet 5-7, 2007, Ottawa, Canada

Abstract

As elsewhere in the world, there is a continuing need in Nepal for a standardized form of pre-school day care so that working parents can have assurance that their children are in warm, caring, safe, affordable and readily available setting while they are away at work. Nepalese parents have needs which are no different from the needs of corresponding parents in western countries. Professional Child Care providers cite several key factors to ensure that suitable day care is available to the working parents:

  • The service must provide a safe and caring environment for the children
  • The service must be easy to access and be affordable
  • The service should be open to all children regardless of the financial and/or social status of the parents
  • The service should provide a means for parents to participate in the running of the daycare under the supervision of a qualified day care specialist.

A program of Early Child Care is available in Nepal but not widely, nor is the program sustainable particularly in rural areas, as parents are often overwhelmed with the task of organizing and maintaining a daycare facility. With more and more fathers traveling out of the country to work, mothers are burdened with maintaining the family enterprise (farm, shop, etc.) for long periods of time while caring for the young children. While the concept of group or home childcare is not unknown in Nepal, facilitating its establishment is a struggle.

We propose a variation of an existing child care model in Nepal; one that is sustainable, provides guarantees for quality care, and is a proven method for preparing children for schooling. Emphasis is placed on a so-called child-centered play-based program which has proven to give positive results. Recent studies show such programs help prepare the children better for schooling and have substantially reduced the drop out rates in grades 1 and 2. The inclusive nature of the program also allows young girls to thrive to the same degree as young boys.

The project would be coordinated with the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, and NGOs such as Seto Gurans (“White Rhododendrons”) National Child Development Center, Women’s Foundation (WF) of Nepal and the Canadian Child Care Federation.

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