In reality, how efficient are Anganwadis in providing proper education to the children?
This paper examines the impact that anganwadis have in the education of children. The conventional anganwadi should be able to provide basic health care including immunization, nutrition and health education and health check ups apart from preschool activities. The responsibilities of Anganwadi workers (AWW) include conducting regular quick surveys of all families, organize preschool activities, provide health and nutrition education to families especially pregnant women on how to breastfeed, etc., motivating families to adopt family planning, educating parents about child growth and development, assist in the implementation and execution of Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY) to educate teenage girls and parents by organizing social awareness programmes etc., identify disabilities in children, and so on. This paper focuses on the education aspect in anganwadis.
Education in Anganwadis
According to the National Institute of Public Cooperation & Child Development, Anganwadi Workers should be able to create a stimulating environment for the children that allows them use their creativity and organize activities accordingly. It is also clearly outlined in the NIPCCD ‘Guidebook for Planning and Organization of Preschool Education Activities in Anganwadi Centers’ about the type of activities and their examples which helps to target every aspect of learning including physical and motor development, cognitive and language development and psychosocial development.
Apart from this Anganwadi workers are also responsible for:
The anganwadi centers function 6 days a week, and the mean numbers of hours the anganwadi workers work were found to be 6 hours per day. About half (51.5%) of the anganwadi workers perceived that their duties could not be completed within their working hours. They are also involved in several non-ICDS programs that ranged from various health awareness campaigns (blood donation camps, malaria programs) to numerous surveys (ration card, election ID survey) and election duties. Over half (56.1%) of them said these programs affected their routine activities at the anganwadi, and 74.2% felt that they should be spared from participating in these programs. This means that vital activities including, comprehensive teaching and preparing children for school have taken a backseat.
Only 54.5% AWWs have received one-month compulsory induction training (which oriented them to various aspects of mother and child care, health, nutrition, and record-keeping) prior to being appointed. Hence, rendering them unskilled in teaching the children.
Thirty-five years after its implementation, Integrated Child Development Services has produced results below expectations. One of the reasons is possibly due to a misperception of responsibilities by anganwadi workers with primary focus moving away from health and nutrition education and preschool education to record-keeping and surveying.
The average amount of time spent by Anganwadi workers on education was only 14.6 hours per week, i.e. 2.5 hours a day out of the average working time of 7 hours.
In response to these shortcomings, the Ministry for Women & Child Development stated that in order to make the role of Anganwadi workers more meaningful, they will now undergo training to be able to provide pre- school education to children aged between three to six years at the state-run day care centres.
A study conducted by Journal of Academia and Industrial Research (JAIR) on the efficiency of anganwadis has shown that more than half of the anganwadi centres are efficient and very few are highly efficient. However, more than one fourth of the anganwadi centres are not efficient in service delivery including providing pre primary education.
associated with efficiency of anganwadi centres. Anganwadi centres are considered as the best place for children to get good nutrition, health care and formal education economically. However, quality of service still needs to be evaluated. It has been recommended by various non-government and research organisations that improvement in anganwadi centre’s infrastructures and logistic facilities are inevitable components in delivering services to beneficiary. Yet another factor is the educational qualification of anganwadi worker. For the assessment of growth and minor health issues of the children, anganwadi worker must have basic educational qualification. Lastly, community participation and coordinated work with other departments also help in accomplishing the objectives of ICDS.
It can be concluded that the working of Anganwadis in respect to providing adequate education to young children have not provided results as expected. Other duties and also lack of incentives for the Anganwadi Workers has significantly affected their performance. The government should be able to further reduce the responsibilities of the AWW’s in order to give focus to providing education and hence securing the future of these children.
Do Anganwadis have an education programme that includes children with learning disabilities and the training for the same?
Learning disability is a classification that includes several areas of functioning in which a person has difficulty learning in a typical manner, usually caused by an unknown factor or factors. This includes dyslexia and dyspraxia. The methods used to teach children with learning disabilities are different from those employed for other children. Individuals who have learning disabilities may exhibit a variety of difficulties, including problems with reading, spoken language, writing, or reasoning ability. Hyperactivity and inattention may also be associated with learning disabilities. Coordination, behavior, and interactions with others may also be affected.
An individual with learning disabilities may have average or above average intelligence. However, he/she may have difficulties in a classroom setting without appropriate support and accommodation.
This paper attempts to identify whether or not Anganwadis are equipped to deal with students having learning disabilities.
Inclusive Education in Anganwadis
Research reveals that 80% of the brains capacity develops before the age of three years and thus the early Early Childhood Care and Education offer a special opportunity to foster developmental gains in children.
Under the Integrated Child Development Scheme(ICDS), anganwadi workers are required to do early detection of learning disabilities in children present at their anganwadi centres.
Sometime during 2016, in Trivandrum, the Social Justice Department embarked on a massive exercise in the district to bring more than 600 children identified with special needs into the anganwadis so as to equip them for inclusive education. In line with the National Early Childhood Care and Education Policy, the department conducted a house-to-house survey to identify children with learning disabilities and special needs in the below 6-year age group to integrate them into regular schools. As part of this, the Central Institute on Mental Retardation gave close to 200 anganwadi workers training to deal with these children.
ECCE help to identify and support the children at risk. Through early assessment coupled with intervention, one can gain relevant information, especially about what child can do and about interventions that will optimize his/her learning potential. This also increases the chances that children with learning disabilities can participate and flourish in inclusive mainstream educational settings. Research reveals that one in three infants and toddlers who receive early intervention services do not experience disability in future or require special education in a preschool.
Early childhood care and education provided through Anganwadi Centres has the aim to develop in the children including CWSN- (i) good physique, muscular coordination, basic motor skills; (ii) stimulating intellectual curiosity to enable child to understand his/her environment by exploring, investing, experimenting and learning; (iii) aesthetic appreciation of self, others, things and environment; (iv) emotional maturity by guiding to express, understand, accept and control feelings and emotions; (v) moral and cultural values so as to be honest, obedient, sincere, compassionate, truthful and respectful to elders; (vi) self-confidence and inner discipline; (vii) ability to express thoughts and feelings in fluent, correct and clear language; (vii) personality through rich learning experience; (viii) social attitude, group manners and sharing things with others, live & play with others and control natural aggressiveness and destructiveness; and (ix) good conducts, skills for personal adjustment and ability to perform activities of daily living independently etc. Adding to that, all these are very imperative to promote all round development of a child and ensure his/ her gainful and complete participation in the regular education set up at primary level or above.
The main challenges for promoting early childhood care and education for children with special needs through anganwadi centres in India to facilitate their comprehensive and productive inclusion in the mainstream primary education are:
It can be concluded, that presently anganwadis are only equipped to to identify children with learning disabilities, but not how to teach the to adapt and overcome it. There is also a lack of a uniform and nationalised curriculum for an inclusive education programme. Awareness training should be conducted for families, officials and local leaders which would ensure the proper management and quality of ECCE service through their cooperation and participation. Thus, it can be concluded that if Anganwadi centres are equipped well and Anganwadi workers are trained properly to deal with children having learning disabilities, they can positively contribute to making inclusive education successful.