Bengaluru’s anganwadi community is demanding that the education ministry’s Bala Vatika scheme, approved recently by the Supreme Court, be shut down.
The scheme aims to provide children below four years of age education, good environment and nutritious food. The ministry implemented it on October 21.
The Centre has decided to transform anganwadis into primary health care service centres, threatening workers in anganwadis.
Worried that the new scheme will rob their jobs, the anganwadi workers are on a statewide agitation to demand it be shelved. They also want the government to provide them better facilities.
Saraswathi H, a worker at an anganwadi in JP Nagar, informed The Observer: “Anganwadis already provide education to primary school students. Why do we need a new scheme now? We are scared of losing our jobs. There was a meeting in May where our president gave us an assurance about the safety of our jobs.”
Varalakshmi S, president of Karya Rajya Anganwadi Naukarara Sangha, informed The Observer: “We are planning a strike on December 1 to stop the Bala Vatika scheme. Anganwadis already have facilities to provide education to children aged 4 years. There are a lot of teachers across the state who depend on anganwadis for their living. The jobs of anganwadis faculty will be in danger.”
Additionally, she commented: “We don’t have enough facilities like washrooms, healthcare and quality drinking water, which should be primarily provided under the Integrated Child Development Scheme. Instead of launching a new scheme, the government can provide all the facilities that can shape our anganwadis as they should be.”
Currently, 62,580 anganwadis and 331 mini-anganwadi centres are functioning in Karnataka.
Venkata Ramana, managing trustee of Swabhiman, an NGO, shared: “Anganwadi people are only being paid Rs 5,000 for eight hours of work which is minimal. And anganwadis lack facilities like playrooms, spacious rooms and nutritious food for children which are supposed to be provided by the government. Many anganwadis in the city have tiny rooms. The children are supposed to have a good environment to study. The government can do a lot for them, and they can restructure all anganwadis by providing the facilities that a child needs.”
Anganwadis was an initiative taken by the Centre under the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme. An anganwadi is a primary healthcare and education centre in rural India, focusing on the health of pregnant women and nursing mothers and child health care.
* Pre-primary education in anganwadis
* Recognition of anganwadi workers as teachers
* Upgrade anganwadis as Annadotti Akshara Kendras
* Health facilities and gratuity