Empty classrooms in Zilla Parishad (ZP) school buildings will now accommodate local anganwadis. The idea is to provide dedicated adequate space for anganwadis, which will provide an environment conducive to children’s development.
There are a total of 1,10,048 anganwadis in the state. Out of these, 21,000 are currently running in rented premises whereas close to 10,000 run in local public libraries or community centres etc. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 recommends integration of anganwadis with schools. The state is preparing a policy to encourage colocation of anganwadis with ZP schools to ensure more convenient and smoother integration.
A meeting was held by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar with the Women and Child Development Department to discuss various policy matters. Confirming it, Rubal Agarwal, Commissioner at the Integrated Child Development Service Scheme, Maharashtra, said, “We already have such a colocation arrangement for close to 80,000 anganwadis. Whereas we have received confirmation from the Rural Development Department (RDD) that more 2,000 empty rooms are available in ZP schools running in different rural parts of Maharashtra. While such colocation continues in different phases following availability of the premises, it requires approvals from RDD and WCD for each arrangement. The DCM encouraged that a policy can be framed regarding it so that approvals will be possible at local levels making the process more convenient.”
Such colocation is expected to reduce the drop-out rate seen in anganwadis to school transitions. “While anganwadis are focused on nutrition as well as early development of children; it is also important that this process culminates into these children taking admission to nearby schools for Class I. But many drop out for various reasons. Now, if the anganwadi is in school premises, not only will children get used to the environment of a school, parents will also be more comfortable in continuing with the same school after having seen it so closely during anganwadi years of their wards,” said Agarwal, adding that it is a win-win situation as even ZP schools will see more enrolment.
“Many ZP schools have recently complained that their enrollment figures are dropping,” she said.