|Introduction: Write a short note on Anganwadis|
Body: Write the significance of Anganwadi model. Write a few points on challenges facing anganwadis in effective delivery of Early Childhood Education (ECE).
Conclusion: Write a short way forward
Anganwadi is a government-sponsored child-care and mother-care development programmes in India at the village level. It primarily caters to children in the 0-6 age group. It was started in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program. Anganwadis provide the three basic services under ICDS- nutrition, health and pre-school education. Reasons behind the importance of the program are:
- Providing affordable and accessible healthcare: About 2 million anganwadi workers are reaching out to a population of 70 million women, children and sick people, helping them become and stay healthy.
- Local Connect & Community Mobilisation: Anganwadi workers have better social skills and interact more easily with the local people. The local people are comfortable with the local language and ways, so these workers are trusted.
- Eradicating Malnourishment: Anganwadis are integral for the success of ICDS programme that caters to the nutrition, health and pre-education needs of children till six years of age as well as women and adolescent girls.
- Ensuring Access to Government Programmes: They have been point-persons for rural communities to access key health services and benefits. ASHAs and AWWs have been going to extreme lengths to ensure that the households they serve are able to access State entitlements.
However, this model has been struggling to deliver quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) due to the following factors:
- AWCs do not provide an environment that encourages parents to leave children at these centers. Only a limited number of AWCs have facilities like creche and good quality recreational facilities for pre-school education.
- These centers are under-resourced and overburdened. The absence of adequate space, lack of play-based learning materials, low investment in ECE and constraints of human resources as some key reasons for this situation.
- The implementation of the ICDS scheme in AWCs is uneven across States.
- The lack of research and development in non-formal preschool education obstructs the quality of ECE services.
- During pandemic, the situations worsened as it was difficult to reach parents as some do not have a smartphone or the parent who owns the smartphone is at work.
Over the years, Anganwadi workers have ensured last mile delivery of ECE and education care schemes. It is crucial to leverage their vast reach by filling infrastructural gaps, payment increase of Anganwadi workers and invest in research and development of a meaningful ECE curriculum, so that AWCs become an ideal place for children entering primary school.