The sod was turned on Friday morning for the University of Guyana’s Early Childhood Centre of Excellence (ECCE), which will serve as a model institution for research and teaching.The site where the ECCE will be builtThis project is funded jointly by the Guyana Government and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) through the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) to the tune of $120 million.Measuring 7624 square feet, other features of this facility will include classrooms, an observation room, conference room and research spaces.According to Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, it will serve as a medium for the development of early childhood education. It is critical in ensuring that young children are given adequate resources to thrive in their later years.“Early childhood is a very important period in life. It is a period when children learn an enormous amount about the everyday world. It is also the time when young children acquire lifelong attitudes towards themselves towards others and towards learning,” said Jordan.Along with the equipped spaces, the facility will be able to accommodate 120 toddlers and infants – 50 per cent of whom would be children of students and staff at the University. The remaining 50 per cent would be vulnerable children from ‘underprivileged’ communities such as Sophia, Cummings Lodge, Pattensen, Industry and other areas.It will serve as a demonstration site for pedagogical practice, examining the impact of early experiences and providing a setting for training to undergraduate and graduate students.“It’s mission must be to advance knowledge of the development in the communities across Guyana…The centre would be responsible for guiding the directions and standards of early childhood education nationwide. The centre would be unique, in that it not only will contain a facility for our children to grow and thrive in a safe environment conducive to learning but it will also function as a research facility.”The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has also played a part in the formation of this centre. According to Country Representative, Sylvie Fouet, a child’s early life influences their development significantly.“Every year of a child’s life is precious but when it comes to survival and development, in particular communities in the first years, are critical. What a child eats, experience or learn in the first thousand days will influence them for the rest of their lives so quality experiences and interventions, usually from birth to six,” Fouet examined.Six such centres were established in Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).There is a cycle involved for such projects to materialise. When initiatives are suggested, the BNTF would analyse the viability of the project, to which the recommended ones are submitted to the CBD for approval. Once this is completed, communities and beneficiaries work with the Fund for planning and executing all phases of the projects.