Anganwadi Centre

Mothering Dreams

A nation’s development always begins at grass root level.

As part of the Day of Action initiative of United Way Worldwide, Bengaluru chapter’s “Mothering Dreams” tried to highlight the importance of showing young children, who are our future, the road to foster sustainable development in a noteworthy manner.

Anganwadi. Mothers. Recycling. These were the three cornerstones of our Day of Action.

Anganwadi is a type of rural child care center in India. They were started by the Indian government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. Anganwadi means “courtyard shelter” in Indian languages.

Culturally and psychologically unique, United Way Bengaluru attempted to mobilize the rural mothers of Anganwadi children to engage in recycling activities where they recycled indigenous recyclable child safe materials into objects of learning and play for the kids. These were later used by the children themselves.

During the activities, the children had keenly observed their mothers in action and tried to mimic them. They also learnt the significance of green principles in life from their mothers as children in the 0-4 age bracket are at a highly impressionable age. Psychologically speaking, the mother-child bond enabled a better learning environment and it also drove home the crucial role of a mother being a child’s first teacher. In fact, it reiterated the core objective of Born Learning Campaign which cannot emphasize enough the role of a mother in a child’s early childhood education and care. The BLC campaign has been mothering rural Anganwadi dreams since some time now and this event underscored it.

“A Mother, being a first teacher in a child’s life has a key influencing role; formal and informal. ‘Mothering Dreams’ is a recognition of the fact that child’s learning ability can be greatly enhanced if the Mother is given a chance to enter the classroom set up and make learning aids with a touch of love and affection. We had reached out to over 100 Anganwadis and saw the mother of every child take part with fun and excitement”, says Smita Sharma, Program Head – Education, United Way Bengaluru.

The concept does not end here. The targeted Anganwadis were already a part of UWBe’s Born Learning project where the Day of Action went hand-in-hand with the campaign’s goal of strengthening pre-school children’s cognitive and motor abilities. The activities carried out involved creating items which required concentration and skill. The Day of Action aimed to affect learning through 5 developmental aspects – motor skills, social and emotional development, approaches to learning, cognitive thinking and speech and language development.

A educational pulley system created from play items

This program was rolled out in 100 Anganwadis simultaneously across the city of Bengaluru with volunteers and extended team of UWBe extending support. While United Way Bengaluru provided them items such as glue, scissors and other stationary materials, the mothers were requested to bring items like newspapers, old cloths, tires and seeds such that they would be available at no cost in their communities. Most of the materials used were recyclable indigenous materials.

Children used eco-friendly clay to make moulds

The teachers of Anganwadis helped the mothers to understand the requirements of educational aids at the centres and the same were prepared by them from the recyclable materials they had brought with them. About 2035 mothers and 3500 children participated in this program. In this two-hour program held at multiple locations across the city, we were able to make 3300 educational aids that were in line with Chilipili curriculum followed in Anganwadi schools in the city of Bengaluru.

Play item made from used bottle caps

Chilipili is a theme of education or a curriculum followed in the courtyard shelters. This curriculum is in line with Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policy developed by Government of India. This policy caters to all children under 6 years of age and commits to universal access to quality early childhood education.

“The objective is to get the mothers in the underprivileged community to come together and prepare child-friendly play materials using reusable and eco-friendly products. We are keen that through this initiative, children should not be deprived of their innocence but kindle their curiosity and encourage mothers to be invested in the growth of their children. Non-availability of funds should never be a deterrent and we need to show case alternate possibilities for these community members” says, Mr Rajesh Krishnan, Executive Director, United Way Bengaluru.

The key highlight of this campaign was the participation of the transgender community and the backward slums in their own premises. About 10 people from the transgender community and mothers from the backward slums took part by preparing creative learning materials at their respective homes.

Slum mothers and children also joined in the activities

Transgender community involved in the activities

Joy and happiness radiated from the delighted faces of little chubby-faced children at their ‘mother-made’ materials which spelled the real success of this campaign.

In learning from their mothers on how to recycle waste into articles that matter to them like educational aids and playthings, UWBe attempted to simultaneously empower the women, children and the environment for a more sustainable future. Mothering the dreams of the little required an extended effort that included but was not limited to the mother alone. It was aided by the able helping hands of the local community and United Way Bengaluru.

Anganwadi is a type of rural child care center in India. They were started by the Indian government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. Anganwadi means “courtyard shelter” in Indian languages.

 

UWBe Enrollment Campaign to Boost Anganwadi Numbers

Before we can focus on providing the right early childhood care and education, we need to first make sure that the children are at least enrolled in the programs. A lot many times, parents do not realize the significance of the 0-6 age in a child’s mental and cognitive development and thus do not send their children to the Anganwadis.

To battle this issue, United Way of Bengaluru facilitated the Enrollment campaign where our cluster managers and our implementation partner Sparsha Trust reached out to as many as households and motivated the parents to enroll their kids at their nearby Anganwadis where they would be given care, protection and education.

This campaign falls under UWBe’s project Born Learning Campaign. The parents were counselled on the benefits of Anganwadi learning and also the crucial role that the BLC project plays.

Born Learning Campaign baseline study details was employed during the process of enrolment campaign. It was kick-started on May 8th for the year 2019-20. Till now 18 out of 25 Anganwadis in Bellandur, SR Nagar and Hoodi Cluster have been covered. Door-to-door campaigning was carried out based on the details of Anganwadi beneficiary list, BLC base line children assessment and new migrants’ houses. For one Anganwadi, we reached out to nearly 200 to 400 houses within two days.

Outreach workers taking down the details of the children for the enrollment process

Interested parents’ kids were enrolled according to their age groups – 3 to 6 year children were enrolled in Anganwadis and above 6 years were referred to nearby Government schools. Posters were used to attract and educate the parents regarding the issues.

A young kid with the enrollment form

Asha workers, Anganawadi teachers and helpers and Poshak Shala members, community volunteers and Sparsha facilitators participated in this UWBe-led campaign.

 

Quality Education Begins Early: Anganwadi Teachers Leading the Path through Effective ECE

MataPitaGuruDaivam

Every Indian has come across this old Sanskrit saying. Guru features right after one’ parents. Such is the importance of one’s guru in their life. Sometimes, even gurus or teachers need the right training to produce the optimum output and this is all the more crucial in a rural setting where there is a glaring lack of infrastructure.

In rural India, children aged 0-4 spend large amounts of time at their Anganwadi centres, under the care of the teachers there. As part of the Born Learning Campaign, Anganwadi teachers are guided by United Way facilitators to impart the best early education and child care which focusses on developing the motor and cognitive faculties of the children to make them school-ready. These teachers also work alongside the children’s mothers where it is the former’s responsibility to guide the latter in doing the same but in the home environment.

Training of Anganwadi workers and helpers

In such a situation, it is a no brainer to figure out the significance of training and empowering the Anganwadi teachers and helpers through focused and well-defined capacity building programme throughout the year.

Under the ECE Training of Anganwadi Workers and Facilitator, the facilitator visits every Anganwadi once per week and focus on on-the-job support to the Anganwadi teacher.

The training is divided into different cycles with sufficient gap of at least two months between each cycle. The idea is that the participants get sufficient time to practice and apply what they learn in the training. Every training has a component of a workshop and a field practice where the participants have to demonstrate what they have learnt and they are given very specific feedback.

Regular training session of the Anganwadi teachers and helpers

The training is followed by practice on the field which is observed closely by the facilitator with on-the-job support and mentoring.

Some of the main topics covered in the training are the sensitive periods in the 0-6 years age bracket, importance of Early Stimulation, child-centered approach, developing developmentally appropriate activities for children across domains and low cost play material, concept of free play and role of anganwadi teacher and how to set them up for different domains of development such as dramatic play corner, hand-eye coordination corner, story/literacy corner, puzzles corner and creativity corner.

Joint sessions with Anganwadi workers and facilitators

Some of the positive results are Anganwadi teachers spending more quality time on pre-school learning activities, increased support by the community to the Anganwadis visible through their significant contributions in terms of infrastructure and other materials, better perception in the minds of parents and community about Anganwadis and finally better knowledge, skills and attitude of the Anganwadi teachers.

 

BLC Fellowship for Developing Capacity on Early Childhood Education

Introduction

Born Learning Campaign of United Way Bengaluru, and Centre for Learning Resources (CLR) is rolling out the BLC Fellowship for Developing Capacity on Early Childhood Education (ECE). Born Learning Campaign is a program dedicated to the holistic development of children under the age of six attending anganwadi centres, with special focus on ECE and school-readiness.

The need

It has been scientifically proven that 90% brain development in a child happens under the age of five. There is data to prove that neglect of quality in early education, results in poor reading, mathematical and reasoning skills as children progress to formal schooling. The need for a dedicated fellowship to inculcate specialised knowledge and skills among educators who address ECE is important while enabling quality of teaching and learning.

About the fellowship

The BLC Fellowship for Developing Capacity on Early Childhood Education will be dedicated to building the ECE skills of educators who work with children and anganwadi workers. The fellowship, which will span a period of two years, will be an intensive exercise consisting of theoretical knowledge, combined with practical, on-ground experience. The fellowship has the clear objectives to:

  • Build technical competence among the fellows to improve learning outcomes in children
  • Strengthen community engagement at anganwadi and household levels

Curriculum

The fellowship is designed for knowledge and skill-based cascade-model of capacity building over the duration of the fellowship. The fellows will attend five residential trainings at the Centre of Excellence of Born Learning Campaign at United Way Bengaluru.