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Dhaka Tribune

Daycare service for 200,000 children in rural areas on the way

Each community childcare centre will be equipped to look after 25 children for five hours every day

Update : 16 Mar 2022, 10:28 AM

As many as 200,000 children in 45 upazilas of 16 districts will be able to avail daycare services in three years' time.

The government has undertaken a Tk271.82 crore initiative that will offer daycare centre facilities for the children at their early childhood education stage.

Under the project, 8,000 community-based childcare centres, each equipped with the capacity of taking care of 25 children for five hours from 9am, will be established.

These hours have been deemed vulnerable for children under five as parents are busy with income-generating or household tasks, often leaving children unattended, which poses the risk of them being exposed to different hazards including drowning.

Unlike the daycare centres in the cities which are operated by institutions of private initiatives, the centres in rural areas will be run by the local community.

It will have two trained women from the neighbourhood who will be paid to take care of the children for the designated hours.

The children will be provided with play-based learnings and psychosocial support at the centres in addition to care and supervision.

The project, primarily aimed at reducing deaths by drowning, will also include swimming lessons for 360,000 children aged six to 10 at 4,800 primary schools.

Trained local instructors will administer the lessons at the local ponds transformed as required safety slandered as temporary pools.

“This is just the start. After three years’ tenure of the first phase, we may extend the duration and area of coverage upon the positive outcome,” said Women and Children Affairs Ministry’s Joint Secretary (Planning and Statistics) Nargis Khanom.

The Bangladesh Shishu Academy, the national academy for children in the country, has been tasked with the project while District Children Affairs officers will coordinate at the field level.

The government will select NGOs across the country to implement the project while primarily local communities will provide space for one-story tin-shed establishments, 500 in each district, according to the Development Project Proposal (DPP).

The Tk271.82 crore project named Integrated Community Based Center for Child Care, Protection and Swim-Safe Facilities was approved by the Ecnec on February 22 this year.

The government will finance 80% of the project while Bloomberg Philanthropies of the United States and Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) will bear the rest along with technical support.

Drowning accounts for 58% of deaths

Bloomberg Philanthropies has developed a comprehensive daycare model, tested for years since 2012 and promoted the model to the government for scale-up.

The government project has been undertaken taking into account the prevalence of death by drowning among children in rural areas.

A Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) survey, published in 2021, found that drowning is highly prevalent in rural areas and accounts for about 10% of child deaths.

The Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey, published in October 2020, jointly conducted by the National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT) and USAID found that drowning is responsible for 58% of deaths among children 12-59 months of age.

Recognizing the severity of the problem, the United Nations in April 2021 passed its first-ever resolution on Global Drowning Prevention after the resolution was brought to the UN by Bangladesh and Ireland and co-sponsored by 79 other countries.

Mohiuddin Ahmed, additional secretary (Planning, Development and Statistics) of the Women and Children Affairs Ministry, said Bloomberg has developed the idea based on their survey. “We will implement this in some districts first and see the success before expanding to other districts.”

He hoped that the ground-level works could be started by July this year.

Are daycare centres a solution?

A Bloomberg Philanthropies study, titled Saving of Lives from Drowning that started in 2012, found Community Daycares Centres to be the most effective prevention measure for drowning.

The study, supervised by Johns Hopkins University, experimented with safety measures for children under five in seven Upazilas of Bangladesh.

The research conducted by local partners (CIPRB and icddr,b) reported that children who participated in the crèche program were 80% less likely to drown. 

Early analysis of multiyear research shows that the 3,000-community daycare centres contributed to a reduction of more than 70% of drowning deaths among children under five in implementation areas.

Since 2013, six districts already have 3,200 daycare centres set up under two projects.

The community-based centres named “Anchal” are being operated by the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB) with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

“The centres are hosting 56,000 children for free,” CIPRB Deputy Executive Director Dr Aminur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune.

According to the DPP, 2,500 daycare centres in Sherpur, Chandpur, Sirajganj, and Narsingdi districts will likely be incorporated into the project under government funding.

Nargis Khanom said the ministry will take Bloomberg and GHAI's global expertise and provide financial support while the existing centres will be taken as a model.

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