900 319 0030

The Anganwadi Scheme

iasparliament Logo
August 23, 2022

Why in news?

The Anganwadi scheme, designed to support children under six, is yet to fulfil its potential.

What is the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)?

  • The scheme was launched on 2nd October, 1975, and is one of the flagship programmes of the Government of India.
  • It represents one of the world’s largest and unique programmes for early childhood care and development.
  • It is the foremost symbol of country’s commitment to its children and nursing mothers.
  • The scheme is a response to the challenge of providing pre-school non-formal education on one hand and breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality on the other.
  • The beneficiaries under the Scheme are children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • The Anganwadi system is part of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) of the government which serves over 30 million children in the age group of 3-6 in 1.3 million centres across the country.

What is the role of the parents in the Anganwadi system?

  • In ICDS reports, parents are routinely addressed as beneficiaries, passive recipients of ration, immunisation camps, and lately, education.
  • However, this is not how parents view themselves or their children.
  • Education for them is a gateway to meeting their aspirations, and a pathway to social mobility so that their children can have opportunities they missed out on.
  • Enrolment rates for primary school reaching over 90% are a direct consequence of the link in parents’ minds that education leads to opportunities for a better life.

What had led to the downfall of the Anganwadi System?

  • Several surveys that conducted repeatedly with rural and urban parents of 3-6 year old children.
  • It was found that, 80% of the parents considered that the best pathway for social mobility for their children is through education via learning English (speaking and writing) and math skills.
  • The Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) curricula for different States instead focus on local language-driven, and play-based pedagogy.
  • Anganwadi systems, with the best of intentions, do not fulfil parents’ demands.
  • The Anganwadi system, is not willing to work in line with the parent’s wish to educate their children in English language.
  • By ignoring or belittling parents’ aspirations and demands, the system has pushed the parents to leave the Anganwadi system.

What is the importance of language in the Anganwadi system?

  • The system should work towards supporting the children of the Anganwadis, by giving importance to the parent’s expressed needs for English language skills, writing, and maths, for their children.
  • This can be done in easy ways
    • Exposing children to the English language at an early age in an age appropriate, non-intimidating way.
    • Recognising that the language spoken at home is the best way to reach fluency in any other language.
  • Giving children a pencil to scribble for a few minutes a day, of course without making them write letters and numbers endlessly, is a great way to support fine motor skills and later writing.
  • Maths could be made simple by exhibiting the wonder of maths through fun activities like estimation, comparison, sorting, and seriation.
  • This helps reduce the fear and paralysis of maths that gets in their way of succeeding in STEM in later years.

What is the way forward?

  • Anganwadi centres can follow regular daily schedules that balance time spent on self-directed free play and teacher-led activities focused on developing cognitive, literacy and numeracy skills.
  • They can also conduct regular Shiksha Choupals (parent - teacher meetings) to showcase the learning happening in the Anganwadi to the parent community to bolster their trust in this institution.
  • A mass campaign for awareness of age appropriate ECCE that brings parents in as stakeholders, is crucial in the next five years.
  • In the ECCE ecosystem, it is necessary to embrace the power of ‘abhibhavaak-bhagidari’ (participation of parents) to activate Anganwadi 2.0.



  1. https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/not-centres-of-learning-yet/article65799804.ece
  2. http://icds-wcd.nic.in/icds.aspx
Login or Register to Post Comments
There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to review.



Free UPSC Interview Guidance Programme