The Anganwadis in our country provide not only education but also other important services such as health, nutrition and immunization to children in the 3 to 6 year age group. The job of the Anganwadi Sevika, if done well, is quite challenging. Children from middle class families have access to nurses and doctors who can take care of their health. They have experts who can advise the parents on the children’s nutritional needs. There are trained teachers who look after their education. If there is any problem in child rearing, the parents have access to counselors. In short, there is an entire system of professionals in our society to cater to the needs of children from the middle class. Children from marginalized communities have only one place to go to for all these needs – the Anganwadi. The Anganwadi Sevika has to assume all of the above mentioned roles from time to time. From this, the complexity of her job is apparent. In such a scenario, with Anganwadis running on meagre resources, the fact that early childhood education is the weakest service is not surprising at all.
The recently announced National Education Policy 2020 recommends some changes to the curricular framework. A ‘Foundational Stage’ is proposed for children of 3 to 8 years. At present, children of the 3 to 6 age group are attending Anganwadis. To implement the proposed Foundational Stage, the Anganwadi Sevikas will have to strengthen the ECE service provided in Anganwadis. They will have to transform the Anganwadis into vibrant centers of early childhood education.
To achieve this transformation, the first step is to create a few basic physical facilities in the Anganwadis. These are not very expensive, but have to be done thoughtfully. This blog and the video is about how an Anganwadi Sevika named Deepa Tai transformed her Anganwadi.
You must have realized after watching the video that even though the children in the Anganwadi cannot read like adults, they need to have a lot of written material around them. This material must be used in their daily activities. If such material is displayed in the Anganwadi, children’s awareness of the written language can develop better. Children can learn, without being explicitly taught, that the meaning of the written text can be understood by reading it and that it can be used in everyday situations. In the video, you have seen how the space on the walls of an Anganwadi can be used effectively to create this awareness about written language among children.
Many children in rural areas grow up without much exposure to written language. In households where the children are the first generation to go to school, there are no adults who use written language. Thus, when they enter school, for a long time they are unaware of the purpose of learning script. Their journey towards literacy becomes more difficult as a result. On the other hand, children who are aware about the different uses of written language and have experienced the joys of reading with the help of significant adults become literate quite quickly. Children who attend Anganwadis come from households without much of a literate environment and thus the role of the Anganwadi in fostering their literacy development becomes crucial.
In the next article, we will further discuss how Deepa Tai taught the children how to use the various facilities. Deepa Tai has taken a small step towards strengthening ECE service in her Anganwadi. But it has transformed the Anganwadi into a place where children can come with joy – an Anand-Wadi! To implement the ‘Foundational Stage’ in the new curriculum as proposed in NEP 2020, it is necessary to transform the Anganwadis, which provide child development services to thousands of children, into Anand-wadis.
Please post your comments about the following two points in the video:
1. Do you agree that making written material available in the Anganwadi will aid the literacy development of children? What is your experience in this matter?
2. What is Deepa tai’s opinion about painting cartoons or pictures permanently on the Anganwadi walls? Do you agree with it?