The Government of Nepal is committed to ECD as demonstrated through the Strategy Paper adopted in 2004, National Plan of Action, and the draft amendment of the Education Act. With the new School Sector Development Plan (SSDP) starting in July 2016, the government is committed to increase quality access of ECD programs nationally by funding one year of pre-primary education. Participation from the communities and NGOs are also strongly encouraged to expand and improve ECD provisions.
The term ECD is generally used in Nepal and distinguishable in two forms to target children between 3 and 5 years of age: i) school-based pre-primary classes and ii) community-based child development centers. Children under three are generally supported through home-based programs and daycare centers.
Since 1996 , Nepal has successfully halved the rates of infant, under-five, and maternal mortality. Despite progress, the high prevalence of stunting and low birth weight due to malnutrition continues to plague the country. With 15% of its population living below the poverty line, pressure continues to intensify in providing comprehensive and quality ECD services to benefit all children in Nepal.
• Lack of programs for children from birth to three years of age.
• Inadequate professional training and motivation of ECD personnel.
• Limited inter-sectoral coordination and commitment from various ministries for holistic ECD services.
• Insufficient funding to implement ECD programs.
• Strengthen inter-ministerial coordination mechanism.
• Strengthen parental programs to ensure holistic development of children under 3.
• Create a strong network between the government, communities, NGOs, and INGOs to advocate for ECD programs in Nepal, align on priorities, and coordinate actions.
• Mainstream independently-operated private centers under a common ECD curricular framework.
• Improve quality of ECD programs by building capacities of ECD personnel.
• Strengthen ECD program monitoring and supervision.
• Promote and advocate cultural and children rights. Incorporate indigenous knowledge and traditional practices into Parental Education and ECD Education Programs through activities such as music, dance, storytelling, and plays.
Ministry of Education/Department of Education in collaboration with Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women, Children, and Social Welfare, and Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development
1. Collaborative partnerships to scale up ECD programs
• Noteworthy aspects: The government’s effort to expand ECD centers have been matched with strong support from local communities, including NGOs, community-based organizations, and the private sector.
• Achievements: Rapid expansion of ECD centers from 5,023 in 2004 to 35,121 in 2014. 77% of girls between three and four years of age are enrolled in 35,121 ECD centers nationally.
2. District Integrated ECD Plan (District ECD committees supported by UNICEF)
• Noteworthy aspects: District Integrated ECD Plan is a coordinated and joint effort to provide holistic ECD services in the districts. Under District ECD committees, stakeholders like District Development Committee, District Education Office, District Public Health Office, District Child Welfare Board, District Water and Sanitation Office, NGOs and schools come together to plan for integrated ECD services.
• Achievements: 23 out of 75 districts have developed District Integrated ECD Plans.
3. Community engagement for ECD program sustainability
(implemented by the Seto Gurans Network)
• Noteworthy aspects: Supportive community in establishing effective yet low-cost ECD centers, through funds-generating cooperatives, land donation, food sharing, and facilitators’ training via sister organizations of the Seto Gurans network.
• Achievements: School readiness of 40% of children who participated in the ECD program. A total of 351 centers were established with low facilitator turnover rate, well-equipped facilities, and child-friendly learning environment.
4. Healing and Education through Art or HEART
(implemented by Save the Children Nepal)
• Noteworthy aspects: Children undergoing difficult circumstances, including those exposed to conflict and trauma, are introduced to art activities with locally available materials to creatively express themselves. HEART-incorporated curriculum of 78 ECD Centers have met the National Minimum Standards.
• Achievements: The project has been scaled up to two other districts in Western Nepal after a successful piloting phase.
“Nepal has been a signatory to the UN Conventions on Child Rights. The State should establish ECD as the fundamental rights of children and conduct it as an integrated activity.” - Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, President of Nepal, February 2009.