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.