Anganwadi is a government sponsored child-care and mother-care development programme in India at village-level. It caters to children in the 0-6 age group. The program was started by the Indian government in 1975 as a part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. An Anganwadi centre provides basic health care facilities in Indian villages and there are around 27 lakh anganwadi workers and helpers in the country.
There are many responsibilities and duties to be performed by an Anganwadi Worker, recommended by the government, one of them being imparting Pre School Education. The aim of PSE is to provide a learning environment to children under the age group of 3-6 years, and early care and stimulation for children under the age of three. PSE is provided through the medium of ‘play‘ to promote the social, emotional, cognitive, physical and aesthetic development of the child as well as to prepare him/ her for primary schooling.
But from now onwards, the Anganwadi workers across the country will have to undergo training to be able to provide pre-school education to children aged between three and six years. The step has been taken to make the role of the Anganwadi workers more meaningful. There will be a shift in the role and duties of the anganwadi workers, from food distribution to imparting pre-school education. The idea is to make ICDS more meaningful and effective.
The government is planning to reshape the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme, under which food and primary healthcare are provided to children less than six years of age and their mothers. The government has also figured out alternative ways of distributing food so that the anganwadi workers can focus more on imparting education which is crucial for the development of a child.
The announcement was made by Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi while presenting the National Level Awards 2016-17 to anganwadi workers. While addressing the gathering she said, “authorities “misused” them for over four decades by making them work for elections and attend political meetings or greet VIPs which she said had been banned after she took over.
All in all, the step taken by the government is good!! Without schooling, millions of children are pushed into child labour and condemned to a lifetime of social exclusion, low earnings, and exploitation. Some of them work for long hours as domestic helpers or in Dhabas; and others are forced into begging or prostitution, or end up as rag-pickers. When they grow up, they swell the ranks of unskilled labour at the lowest rung of our society and are denied equal opportunities and choices.
The pre-school education is very significant in helping children to prepare for formal schooling. Pre-school education assists children, both to enter school and to remain within the system. A child cannot fully realize his/ her right to education unless he/ she has access to quality early childhood care and education.