Anganwadi scheme hit by lack of community participation

BANGALORE Nov. 9. Lack of community participation and coordination between the anganwadi workers, the community, and the Government was one of the main obstacles to the effective functioning of the anganwadi scheme, according to a study by Lakshmi Krishnamurthy and Vani Periodi.

At an open forum organised by Forum for Creche and Childcare Services (FORCES), Karnataka, which has taken up a qualitative study of about 30 anganwadi centres in Bangalore Urban and Rural districts, Ms. Krishnamurthy presented the findings of their study which evaluated the government-run anganwadi centres under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in the State. The scheme has around 40,000 anganwadi centres all over the State to provide health, educational, and nutritional services to pre-school children (0-6 years).

Though Karnataka was one of the better States in the country as far as the anganwadi scheme was concerned, there were still plenty of loopholes. While most anganwadi centres had a building or a room to function in, a majority of the premises were dilapidated and did not have either toilet facilities or a source of water, Ms. Krishnamurthy said.

Anganwadi workers were supposed to provide food to the children, which they cooked themselves, but most anganwadi centres had no facilities for this. In many instances, the anganwadi worker had to run around to get a building sanctioned or mobilise resources for getting a centre as, according to the Government, the resources for such activities had to be marshalled from the community. It was a Catch 22 situation for the anganwadi workers, as the Government did not provide adequate support and the members of the community look upon the anganwadi worker with suspicion and did not participate. Finally, the victim was the child, she said.

The anganwadi worker was expected to fulfil so many roles that she was not able to spend enough time with the children. She was a nutrition provider, a teacher, a family educator, a health worker, and even an errand person. Most of her time was taken up in maintaining charts and logbooks to show to her supervisors and she did not have enough time to stimulate and educate the child, Ms. Periodi said.

The issue of providing adequate teaching aids and ensuring pre-school activities that would enhance the child's development was also a cause for concern, Ms. Periodi said. In most anganwadis, there was a dearth of teaching aids and toys for kids and even for this the worker had to run around. Moreover, the method in which kids were stimulated through pre-school activities was questionable, she added.

The Karnataka Chapter of FORCES has 15 members who work in the area of education, child labour, disability, health, and so on and was initiated by Sutradhar.

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