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Anganwadi creche to check dropout rates

- Learning focus on rural pre-schoolers

Anganwadi centres in the rural pockets of Ranchi and elsewhere in the state will soon shed their “khichdi centre” tags and take on the responsibility of preparing children in the age group of 3 to 6 years for school.

There are around 38,000 anganwadi centres in Jharkhand. Of these, 2,400 are being equipped to function as crèches wherein pre-schoolers from remote villages will be engaged in learning activities. In each centre, the onus would be on a mukhyasevika and mukhyasahayika to teach the children.

One hundred such creches will begin functioning in each of the 24 districts of Jharkhand from January next year.

The selected anganwadis are already being readied to make learning a fun experience for the pre-schoolers with colourful posters to help them identify alphabets, numbers, plants and animals and even fables. The aim is to involve 30 children in each anganwadi centre in the process from among those visiting them as part of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) which provides nutritious food and maternal health care. As many as 4,800 sevikas and sahayikas have also been trained for the purpose.

The first-of-its-kind scheme in the state is the brainchild of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) in collaboration with the social welfare department and Unicef.

“We are looking forward to providing both nutrition and pre-school learning to children. They will be taught in the local dialect and in Hindi,” said Unicef education specialist Binay Pattnayak.

“Our main purpose is to provide learning-based activities in home and school language, so that once they are enrolled in local primary schools, the children are able to comprehend the syllabus sans any difficulties, which will also minimise the dropout rate,” he added.

He said the move would not only develop academic environment but also help children who are unable to attend school due to language issues.

According to Unicef officials, more than 80 per cent of brain development takes place by the age of five. “So we are trying our best to improve pre-school learning in the rural pockets of our state,” said an official.

SCPCR member Sanjay Mishra also expressed the hope that the concept would minimise dropout rates in each district.