The strategic development goals of the Government of Sri Lanka recognizes the importance of human capital formation, including the role of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in realizing the country’s long term development goal. Early Childhood in Sri Lanka is generally considered to be the period from conception to age 5. Early Childhood Development (ECD) services in Sri Lanka can be divided into two groups which are home based and center based. Home based services include parental care for 0-3 years age group and center based services for children in the 3-5 age group. Most of the ECD centers are managed by the private sector and Non-governmental Organizations.

The National Plan for Early Childhood Care and Development (NPECCD) developed by the Government of Sri Lanka has identified the following key issues faced by the ECD sector:

  • Poor quality of physical facilities and inputs.
  • Poor quality of the ECD teaching force.
  • Inadequate national standards compliance and monitoring system for quality management.
  • Child under-nutrition.
  • Low coverage.
  • Inequitable access.

Together with the World Bank’s mandate “invest early, invest smartly and invest for all”, Early Childhood Development aims to set up the foundation stone for the betterment of the future of children with the long term goal to help with the development of the country.

Based on the above statement, “The Early Childhood Development Project” assisted by the World Bank was launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs & Dry Zone Development on March 1, 2016 with the objective of providing equitable access to and improve the quality of early childhood development services.

The primary beneficiaries of the project are children attending ECD centers. Other direct beneficiaries include ECD teachers and ECD administrators. The indirect project beneficiaries include families of children enrolled in ECD programs, contractors of ECD facility improvement schemes and suppliers of teaching learning material.

In order to improve the quality of ECD provision in Sri Lanka, the Project supports quality management, improvement of ECD facilities, provision of teaching-learning materials, and the training of ECD teachers, teacher assistants, and trainers. It will also provide some support for activities aimed at improving the health and nutritional status of children enrolled in ECD centers.

The Project financed the revision of the curriculum framework and child development standards that are meant to guide the teaching-learning processes in ECD centers. To measure the improvements made towards meeting child development standards, all project supported centers have conducted annual child development assessments

It supports the development and selection of age-appropriate teaching learning materials for 3-5 year old children and teachers in the Sinhalese, Tamil and English languages.

The Project supports the development of a compact set of prioritized minimum quality standards for ECD centers based on the government’s existing quality standards. The Project also supports the development of ECD resource centers at the Provincial level by upgrading or extending existing facilities.

To help improve the physical quality of center facilities, eligible state- and non-state-run ECD centers across the country receives grants from the Project for minor civil works and for upgrading equipment and furniture.

Furthermore the Project made provisions for age appropriate, high-quality teaching-learning materials to eligible state- and non-state-run centers across the country. The Project Management Unit (PMU) prepared a standard package of play-oriented educational materials such as toys, blocks and shapes, different types of puzzles, and measuring devices, and have distributed them to the relevant centers.

The training of trainers (TOT) program supported by the Project prepares the necessary pool of trainers to deliver short-term training across the nation.

Support for poor students channeled through ECD centers: The Project will support fee waivers for poor households to help them enroll their 3-5 year old children in both state- and non-state-run ECD centers. 

Parental awareness and interaction programs-The Project supports the development of standardized program modules as well as the regularly delivers these programs across the country. These programs include awareness programs for enhancing parents’ understanding of holistic childhood development; interaction programs for guided parental experience; and parent education programs to enhance parenting practices.

Source: Project Appraisal Document