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.