Education along with Nutrition
Union Minister for Women and Child Development (WCD), Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, during a national event organized on strengthening Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) at Vigyan Bhavan on 10th May 2023, launched “Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi”, that is “Education along with Nutrition”.
In the presence of over 800 state representatives, CDPOs, Supervisors, and Anganwadi workers, Smt. Irani delivered the keynote address. She highlighted Government’s commitment to ensuring holistic development of all children under the age of 6 years, with a focus on building their skills in the key development domains identified under the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) viz., physical/motor, cognitive, socio-emotional-ethical, cultural/artistic, and the development of communication and early language, literacy and numeracy under ‘Poshan bhi Padhai bhi’ which is in pursuance of the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and the ECCE Taskforce established by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Recommendations of the Task Force were the outcome of exhaustive consultations with State governments, experts and most importantly parents and community.
Speaking about the new teaching material (TLM) and methodologies, the Union Minister informed that the ECCE material and audio-visual material were tested with 1.5 million parents in over 10,000 communities through 1 lakh activities. She also emphasized the importance of developing inclusive teaching learning material in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and relevant departments in the States so that methodologies in ECCE for Divyang children are developed and Anganwadi workers can counsel parents to send their children to attend Anganwadi centres.
Highlighting the role of toys as TLM in foundational development, Smt. Irani also spoke about the creation of indigenous and DIY toys with locally and easily available material like wood, cloth, mud, clay etc. that has brought Anganwadi centres under the National Action Plan for Toys (NAPT).
The Union Minister recognized and congratulated the passion and commitment of Anganwadi workers who measured the height and weight of around 7 crore children according to WHO standards and then uploaded the information on the Poshan Tracker ICT platform during Poshan Pakhwada in March 2023. Lauding this feat as unparalleled in the world, she echoed the country’s collective confidence in the Anganwadi behenein and in their ability to contribute holistically to the development of children.
Additional support to more than 1.3 million Anganwadi workers through a three-day specialized ECCE training with a play-based pedagogy, led by National Institute for Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD), was also announced under the “Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi” programme with enhanced budget proposed for ECCE training and teaching learning materials.
It may be noted that close to 13.9 lakh operational Anganwadi centres across the country are providing supplementary nutrition and early care and education to around 8 crore beneficiary children under the age of 6 years, making it the largest public provisioning of such services in the world. Considering global evidence on 85% of brain development being achieved by the age of 6 years, the Anganwadi eco-system becomes a critical access point for building our children’s base, in order to secure their future.
As per the guidelines of the National Education Policy 2020, with ‘Poshan bhi Padhai bhi, Government has taken up the goal of strengthening the foundations of the country’s future generations.
The Government will target children’s development in every domain mentioned in the National Curriculum Framework, viz., physical and motor development, cognitive development, socio-emotional-ethical development, cultural/artistic development, and the development of communication and early language, literacy, and numeracy.
All States will follow the national ECCE taskforce recommendations for a play-based, activity-based learning pedagogy, targeted specifically at developmental milestones of 0-3-year olds as well as 3-6-year olds, including special support for Divyang children.
Through the changes introduced by the “Poshan bhi, Padhai bhi” ECCE policy, every child would be provided with at least two hours of high-quality pre-school instruction on a daily basis. As stated in the NEP, Anganwadi Centres will be strengthened with high-quality infrastructure, play equipment, and well-trained Anganwadi workers/teachers.
Poshan bhi Padhai bhi will focus on promoting holistic and quality early stimulation and pre-primary education for children, ensuring the use of developmentally appropriate pedagogies and emphasizing the links with primary education as well as early childhood health and nutrition services.
Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi program will provide for mother tongue as primary teacher instruction medium, different types of teaching-learning material (visual aids, audio aids, audio-visual and bodily-kinesthetic aids) to Anganwadi Sewikas, and help build a Jan Andolan, to involve communities in strengthening the foundations of the country’s future generations.