Anganwadi is a centrally funded initiative established by states and union territories in India that functions as a rural child and maternal care centre. The Government of India initiated it. In 1975, the Integrated Child Development Services programme was established to tackle child hunger and malnutrition. Anganwadi centres offer six services: supplemental nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, immunizations, health check-ups, nutrition and health education, and referral services. Beneficiaries of the Anganwadi Services Scheme are identified using Aadhaar.
- Children are heavily impacted by their surroundings and the people around them during their early life.
- Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than just school readiness.
- It attempts to develop a child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs holistically in order to lay a firm and comprehensive basis for lifetime learning and wellbeing.
- ECCE has the potential to develop compassionate, capable, and responsible citizens.
- For underprivileged children, ECCE is critical in compensating for parental disadvantages and eliminating educational inequities.
- By 2030, the SDG 4 aspires to guarantee that all girls and boys have access to high-quality early childhood development, care, and pre-primary education.
- There are concerns concerning the capacity building of Anganwadi workers (AWWs), ASHAs, and ANMs. Frontline workers are still not given improved training and incentives, such as greater career opportunities and working conditions.
- Almost one-fourth of the functioning AWCs lack drinking water, and 36% lack toilets.
- In 2015, the NITI Aayog advocated for enhanced sanitation and drinking water facilities, as well as increased power supply and essential medicines for AWCs.
- There is a dearth of general services such as good quality meals, contraceptives and medicines, and frequent health-related counselling in AWCs.
- Anganwadi Workers all around the country are being treated as though they are unskilled. Their monthly remuneration, which is quite low in comparison to the Minimum Wage requirement, is insufficient to cover their living expenditures.
- According to the Kasturirangan committee’s report, it is nearly impossible to fix the curve of education as an individual advances in age unless the imparting of education is done methodically starting from the toddler level. Anganwadi centres (AWCs) are the ideal location for this, however suffering from a variety of ailments necessitates immediate attention.
- Furthermore, the learning approach used at Anganwadi centres is out of date and unsuitable for developing the skills required today. The current study has demonstrated the importance of a play-based learning strategy combined with effective supplementary nutrition in the cognitive development of children, which is not being implemented properly at Anganwadi centres (AWCs).
- AWCs encounter is a lack of infrastructure. A quarter of the functioning AWCs do not have drinking water and 36% do not have toilets.
- Another issue is with ICDS services provided by AWCs. Only a small percentage of AWCs have crèches and high-quality recreational and learning facilities for pre-school education. Beneficiaries of the ICDS do register for services, but because Anganwadis lack basic facilities, they resort to paid solutions. Privately owned centres come at a cost, which is borne disproportionately by low-income families.
- Best practises from states must be implemented worldwide. For example, the Nutri TASC programme established by the Government of Andhra Pradesh tracks registered beneficiaries under ICDS services by name, allowing for better monitoring.
- Government must look after community workers and recognise their contributions to the country’s fight against COVID-19 and undernutrition. They must be treated as employees and skilled workers, and proper salary must be provided.
- Anganwadi centres must be adequately stocked with medicines and contraception.
- Recommendations from committees and think tanks such as NITI Ayog must be included into government policies and programmes.
- Under government initiatives to make better use of technology, AWWs have been given smartphones and their supervisors have been given tablets. Smart apps (Apps) must be created for a variety of objectives, including tracking the provision of take-home rations and supplemental nutrition services. Anganwadi facilities, for example, have been geotagged in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to better service delivery.
- Before being inducted into the facilities, Anganwadi workers (AWWs) must get enough first training. Aside from that, ongoing training and sensitization programmes for staff to adapt to new changes should be included.
- Only a small number of AWCs have creches and high-quality recreational and instructional facilities for pre-school education.
- Improved incentives, such as higher monthly payments, better career opportunities, and a pleasant working atmosphere, are required. State governments, such as Kerala, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu, must give special attention to this issue.
- The number of personnel at the AWCs must be increased by the Centre.
- Sanitation and drinking water facilities, as well as power supply, must be improved
- The need of the hour is for a method that blends an efficient supplementary nutrition programme with pedagogical processes that make learning exciting.
AWCs play a vital role in addressing fundamental child learning and health needs for the poor, as well as assisting the government in implementing its numerous initiatives, particularly those pertaining to child and women development. As a result, the health of AWCs is critical. Steps like the Saksham Abhiyan and technical advancements by states like Gujarat are encouraging, but they are insufficient in light of the difficulties that AWCs face. As a result, the government must address the difficulties and enhance the operation of AWCs by implementing better plans and following the recommendations of think tanks such as NITI AYOG.
How to structure
- Give an intro about Anganwadi’s
- Explain the features and significance of it
- Discuss how it provides early childhood care and education
- Mention challenges faced
- Suggest way forward