Over time, the Eastern Province has been affected by emergencies, including conflicts, the 2004 tsunami and seasonal floods. The 3 decade old civil unrest and devastating disasters have entirely cluttered the social fabric of the Eastern Province negatively impacting on the socio-cultural and educational set ups of the provinces.
Overall, the quality of preschools in the Eastern Province are challenged by the absence of high quality teaching and learning materials; lack of minimum standards; insufficient infrastructure and resources (including play parks and play materials); poorly paid or unpaid teachers; weak coordination among key actors; as well as a lack of overall monitoring and evaluation (lack of data, baselines and assessments/ studies).
It’s now universally acknowledged that the environment that we grow in, the warmth, care, attention and the responsiveness that we get as children determines our overall well being in adulthood. Long ago, Sri Lankan children were raised by and belonged to a community much wider than the immediate family. It started from the preschool teachers to educators at the primary and secondary schools. But the hustles and individualistic tendencies of modern life have thrust the care of child entirely on their parents. This becomes a major challenge when, for one reason or other, parents are incapable of providing a suitable and holistic environment for nurturing children. But thanks to sensitisation efforts by community development organisations, UNICEF and the education stakeholders at the provincial and national levels, the tide is changing with communities, once again, striving to be the focal point for early childhood development and education. There is increased understanding by families and communities that the future depends on the healthy development of their children and that this can only be achieved if they collectively play a pivotal role in them. That’s why, as we see in this publication, communities now actively participate in all aspects of ECD Programmes including building and equipping child friendly Preschools.
We are awed by the strategic focus and ground-breaking contribution that UNICEF and its partners have made towards ECD.
This will undoubtedly not just equip parents, guardians and teachers with in-depth knowledge on raising children in this most critical phase of their lives but will also provide a benchmark upon which development partners and policy makers in the East and other parts of Sri Lanka can act as a strong effective base for future ECD plans and activities. As populations grow, the challenges facing the world increase. The young ones of today are the capital, the drivers that will solve some of these challenges. We must, therefore, unreservedly invest in them, prepare and nurture them at family, community and at national levels in anticipation. The progress of a nation is measured by the quality of life enjoyed by its children. UNICEF and their partners including the Assembly of Social mobilization are now in the arena creating just sustainable spaces for our children..... The tomorrow of our Nation.