Funds to be mobilised through Govt. Budget in next 5 years to benefit 170,000 children
The Sri Lankan Government recognising the importance of investing in early childhood care and development has entered into an agreement with the World Bank to obtain financial assistance of $ 50 million to support the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Project.
Ministry of Finance Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga and World Bank Country Director Francoise Clottes signed the agreement at the Ministry of Finance.
The Government, in its development strategy, has recognised the importance of investing in early childhood care and development to ensure a safe, protective and enabling environment for children below the age of five, by improving access to health, nutrition and the quality of care and development.
According to a Finance Ministry statement, to accelerate economic growth, Sri Lanka needs to strengthen its human capital and bridge human development gaps. Research undertaken globally indicates that investment in early childhood development contributes to the development of human capital by enhancing the child’s readiness for primary school education and leading to better educational outcomes and by providing underprivileged children with early support and minimising disparities in learning.
“Therefore, the Government has committed to the Early Childhood Development Project for the period 2015-2020 with the aim of enhancing equitable access to ECD services while improving its quality,” the statement said.
The International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank has shown their interest to mobilize its funds in this sector and the Government has entered in to an agreement with IDA to obtain financial assistance of $ 50 million to support the ECD project.
These funds will be mobilised through the Government Budget during the period 2015-2020. It is estimated that funds would benefit at least 170,000 children and 6,000 ECD centres.
The project will mainly support the improvement of ECD facilities, provision of teacher-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 centres.