Aanganwadis nursed change in Bihar

Darbhanga, June 5 (ANI): Bihar is surprising everyone with rapid strides, its rush to shake off the backwardness and inertia that once marked it. This impetus is amply evident in the field of education. The goal is to have a quality system accessible to all.

Scores of posts of teachers lying vacant were filled in a time-bound manner involving Panchayati Raj institutions and Nagar Nigams in the process. The most visible face of this is unprecedented construction of school buildings.

There have been measures to create a sense of involvement of the target group themselves, students. Particularly, the girls in Bihar were given a leg-up through the distribution of cycles and uniforms.

A staggering 36 lakh, 81 thousand girls have been covered under the programme for school uniforms and 13 lakh 60 thousand have fallen within the ambit of the ambitious and innovative ‘Mukhya Mantri Cycle Yojana’.

It has been the attention to detail, which has been striking. The school structures coming up have adequate provisions for toilets, drinking water,

playgrounds as well as sports materials apart from study aids; all of which are crucial to building of young minds and bodies. All these were taken care of under the Mukhyamanti Samagra Vidyalaya Vikas programme.

The intent, the pace of the work has been indeed heartening. Kudos to the government who slid very easily into a second term in office based on the concrete steps taken in changing the face of Bihar and setting it unequivocally on a track of development.
et, let us not be too hasty in giving all the accolades to the regime alone. For in doing that, we will run the danger of a broad-brush approach and fail to recognise the nuances, the patterns within this big picture, particularly what has been inherited from the past.

Looking back, we perceive the role of anganwadis across the state who silently, steadily over the years have nurtured young minds and bodies in village hamlets, with often severely limited resources and sparked off a path to education. And this is not a new phenomenon but one, which spans over three decades, to be precise on 2nd October 1975 when the programme began in 33 blocks in Bihar,

A case in point is Bhaotora village, under the ‘Sindhiya’ panchayat just south of Madhubani district also straddling Darbhanga district, both large populated areas.

An ordinary village for all practical purposes except that here too as in many ‘unknown’ villages across Bihar, the anganwadi has done remarkable work over the years, motivating village folks to send their children to school, caring for young ones. Essentially aanganwadi centers and those who run them have been in all senses, partners in the quantum change, now visible in Bihar.

In Madhubani district for example, Gunza Farzana is the Aanganwadi ‘ Sevika’ in Kendra no.78.Obviously devoted to her work, her service to society as it were, she proudly talks about how the anganwadi has made a difference to the 40 children under her care.

From providing nutritious meals of ‘khichri’ and ‘chokha’ (a flat pancake made of lentils) to counseling and caring for pregnant women, it is a valuable input into strengthening society at the grassroots, of tuning them to the change they should expect and be part of.

The anganwadi is really like a nursery, the rural equivalent of the posh ‘play schools’ in metros and urban centers. Here the children play, are fed, are given the first lessons in life.

Farzana has been associated with the centre for now six years and says the anganwadi provides these basic rudiments of learning to children above the age of 5 years. They are ‘prepared’ for admission into the village Primary Schools.

In fact, the transition from the anganwadi to the school system is quite seamless; the children do not require any certificate or any other formality for entrance into this first step into the formal academic system.

It is this pool of children backed by hundreds of Sevikas like Farzana that have prepared the ground for the change we see in Bihar today. In a way, Nitish Kumar credited for triggering and sustaining this momentum is reaping the benefits of the seeds sown over the decades by anganwadi centers and their ‘Sevikas’.

There is yet another invaluable role that these ‘little schools’ are now playing; the issuing of birth registration certificates. Anyone even slightly familiar with the rural scenario would know what an onerous challenge this can be. Many births are still not institutionalized; awareness of its critical importance remains minimal. Village folk had to travel long distances to the Darbhanga court to register.

Giving the Aanganwadi Sevikas, the responsibility of issuing birth certificates within their area was a masterstroke by the government authorities. At the local level, the community is close-knit, leaving precious little chance of any birth falling off the radar.

The aanganwadi is a small operation but has immense significance. Farzana says that what draws the children to the centre; what motivates parents to send them are clearly the facilities provided by the government.

Mid-day meal of course is a big attraction but so are the items like slates, pencils, board; all which makes learning an enjoyable and wholesome experience. This is where the tiny tots grasp the basics of learning, of being part of an education system, a foundational step.

Of the staggering 50 lakh children linked to the anganwadi system, some 25 lakh children below the age of 6 years in more than 60,000 centres across the state are benefiting from these educational building blocks imparted by anganwadis.

The Charkha Development Communication network feels that the government and indeed all sections of our society need to recognise the yeoman service and salute the spirit and sincerity of hundreds and thousands of Sevikas who have infact powered the juggernaut of Education in Bihar today.

Source: By Sudha Kumar(ANI). http://truthdive.com/2011/06/05/Aanganwadis-nursed-change-in-Bihar.html

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