Not Centres of Learning Yet
About Anganwadi system
- The Anganwadi system is a part of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) which serves over 30 million children in the age group of 3-6 in 1.3 million centres across the country.
- The ICDS scheme is designed to support all children under six with their health, nutrition, and education needs.
Why did the Anganwadi system not succeed?
- While across India over 70% of children are enrolled in Anganwadis, they are plagued by low attendance.
- In surveys that we have conducted repeatedly with rural and urban parents of 3-6 year old children, over 80% of parents believe that their kids’ best pathway for social mobility through education is via learning English (speaking and writing) and math skills.
- The Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE)/ Anganwadi system curricula for different States instead focus on local language-driven, and play-based teaching as recommended by leading educators in India for the 3-6 age group.
Why are Anganwadis needed?
- According to experts, the ideal preschool has a skilled facilitator who ensures that children spend most of their time in free and guided play.
- It includes exploring and manipulating their physical environments to develop early language, early numeracy, socio-emotional, executive function, and motor skills — at a rate of neuronal activity that they will never get back once they get older.
- Staffed by Anganwadi workers with roots in play-based pedagogy, attending the Anganwadi for the prescribed two hours a day helps children build critical skills by playing with inexpensive, locally made, indestructible toys in a group setting.
- Over 7 million children in India attend these age-inappropriate private preschools that focus on rote learning from the earliest ages.
What can be done?
- The system must be adapted to meet parents’ demands at least to a certain extent to have any chance of impact at scale in the short term.
- This can be achieved by exposing children to the English language at an early age in an age appropriate, non-intimidating way while accepting that the language spoken at home is the best way to reach fluency in any other language.
- Giving children a pencil to scribble for a few minutes a day, of course without making them write letters and numbers endlessly, is a great way to support fine motor skills and later writing.
- Studies have shown that feeling like one is a part of the ‘maths community’ greatly aids reducing this fear, which changes numeracy outcomes later in life.
- Anganwadi centres can follow regular daily schedules that balance time spent on self-directed free play and teacher-led activities focused on developing cognitive, literacy and numeracy skills.
- Additionally, regular messages can be shared with the parents to equip them on the nature of engagement expected from them to maintain the momentum of what is learnt at school.
- A mass campaign for awareness of age appropriate ECCE that brings parents in as stakeholders can help alleviate many misconceptions about the Anganwadi system.
Source The Hindu
For more updates, Click Here