The Pre-school education in India is imparted in Government Anganwadi’s which have been setup under ICDS- ‘Intensive Child Development Scheme’ formulated by Central Government in 1975.
ICDS is one of the world’s largest programs for early childhood development. The objectives of the scheme are multi-fold, but specific to the Anganwadi’s the aim is to improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group of 0-6 years and lay the foundation for proper psychological , physical and social development of the child. Towards these goals, the services include providing supplementary nutrition, immunization, health check-ups, and pre-school non-formal education to the children.
Although , the goals of supplementary nutrition, immunization , health check-ups is partly met, only non-formal education is provided in these government anganwadis. Children who enroll in the Government Anganwadi’s in the age group of 2.5 years to 6 years miss out on formal education. No formal education means zero early education imparted in the government pre-schools.
Since no formal education is mandatory, Anganwadi in-charge remain pre-occupied in maintaining registers and records of stocks and other welfare schemes. Children from age-group of 2.5 years to 6 years sit in a single classroom. A free meal is provided, a few songs (if Anagnwadi in-charge is free) are taught. After this, the children leave without having learnt any new lessons. What a loss of these prime learning years? How can we ignore the importance of early education on the overall development of our young generation?
Isn’t the need of the hour to make formal education mandatory under the ICDS? Isn’t it wake up time for India to ensure our children studying in government pre-schools have access to the formal education taught in private pre-schools?
To provide supplementary pre-school learning through educational games, colouring, writing, story telling, crafts, festival celebrations ‘Prayaan pre-school programs‘ are run in around fifty government anganwadi’s in Goa. But, this is minuscule of work done.Unless formal education is introduced in government anganwadi’s, the child development that ICDS promotes shall always remain a far cry!