About 30 per cent of children unable to attend pre-schools due to poverty


By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Thirty per cent of Sri Lankan children between three and five years were not attending pre-schools due to poverty, Child Affairs State Minister Rosy Senanayake revealed yesterday (30).

Speaking at the launch of the Educational Curriculum of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for Early Childhood Development (ECD) at the ministry auditorium at Sethsiripaya, Battaramulla, the minister said that many families were faced with economic hardships and, therefore, they couldn’t afford to send their children to pre-schools.

She said the preschool was a vital part of a child’s education process and that a high-quality preschool foundation was crucial to academic success later in life.

Senanayake noted that as children were particularly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters it was important to impart DRR education to children as it would prepare them to understand the risk of disasters in their communities.

The ECD Disaster Risk Reduction DRR Curriculum has been developed by the Ministry of Children’s Affairs with the technical and financial support of Child Fund Sri Lanka, Minister Senayanake said. The publications will include minimum standards on DRR for the establishment and development of ECDs, teacher guide book and activity book, 15 tools to practise with children on DRR on educational skill development and attitude change and a module for training of preschool teachers (on the curriculum).

State Minister Senanayake also said that she had been able to get a Wold Bank credit line of USD 50 million after a series of discussions with them recently to improve the quality and increase equitable access to ECD services in Sri Lanka.

The proposed five-year project was aimed at enrolling an additional 150,000 children in ECD centres while introducing additional 2,500 such centres conforming to national quality standards, she added.

She was critical of the practice of interviewing of children for Grade One school admission.

According to statistics, Sri Lanka has around 17,020 ECD centres staffed by 29,340 teachers. Around 84 per cent of them are under non-state management.

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