The Planters’ Association of Ceylon marked World Children’s Day 2020 with a pledge to establish 35 Child Development Centers (CDC’s) on estates belonging to their membership of 21 Regional Plantation Companies (RPC). This will add the total number of CDC’s on RPC estates to 258. The setting up of these centers will be carried out by the Plantation Human Development Trust (PHDT), a tripartite organisation of RPC’s, plantation trade unions and Government of Sri Lanka.
Although early childhood development care started in the plantations only in 2015, as of now 223 such centres have over 30,000 children, being taken care of by qualified teachers, all of whom are diploma holders in early childhood development.
“Our vision is to make sure that no child is left behind and any investments we have made towards early development of children on our estates is so that they may thrive and have the mind-set for opportunities, which their parents did not have,” said Chairman Planters’ Association, Bhathiya Bulumulla.
“The work being carried out at our advanced Child Development Centers through the outstanding efforts of our dedicated officers represents a major advancement from the early custodial structures that used to exist. It is testament to how far child development and protection has come in our estates, supported by generous investments from RPCs. We will continue to promote the growth of our youth – investing in our future means investing in our children,” Bulumulla emphasized.
“These capable and qualified officers operate the CDCs, and PHDT reports that 365 of these officials are also trained to carry out Child Development Assessments to ensure the youth in their care are developing socially and academically, he added.
PHDT is registered to conduct diploma training courses and to award nationally recognized diplomas in Child Development. In 2019, 672 new diploma holders were recorded.
In addition, the Early Childhood Development programme also recognizes the parents’ role in the emotional, social, and physical development of their children. RPCs, through PHDT, have implemented Parental Awareness Programs to further safeguard the children of estate workers. Over 57,000 parents have thus far benefitted from awareness programs, which cover five modules – including intellect and skills development, and the prevention of domestic violence.
Post-privatization and RPC ownership in 1995, the estate sector has seen major advances in projects to foster child development. Early ‘Pillaiymadu’ custodial facilities were improved into estate crèches, and subsequently, with the influence of the RPCs and PHDT, advanced Child Development Centers were constructed.
With the goal of improving the lives of children in the estate sector, the work to build and renovate CDCs is rapidly progressing. As part of the Early Childhood Development project introduced in 2015, the investment and tireless efforts of RPCs have generated 65 newly built and 158 renovated centers. Approximately 30,000 children have been registered for supportive custodial care across the estates.