Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) constitute an important element of our lives and it takes a primary place in our attempts towards achieving universal education. The domain of ECCE is concerned with children in the age group of zero to six years and addresses holistic development of children in this age group through a comprehensive perspective that covers nutrition, health and learning. The development of a child takes place rapidly between the ages of 0 to 6 years. This phase of a child's development contributes significantly towards laying the foundation for their life. The initial stages of a child's growth also form the critical phase where several developmental disorders can be identified more easily and appropriate pre-emptive or corrective measures can be taken. Considering these factors, early childhood becomes an exceedingly vital phase in the life of a child and needs to be nurtured through appropriate care.
In India, Anganwadi is a child care and learning centre which caters to children in the age group of 0 to 6. These centres were started by the Government of India in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. An Anganwadi aims to provide for basic healthcare activities, nutrition, education as well as preschool activities.
A well functioning Anganwadi would significantly impact the future of a child and ensure lifelong development for her in a positive manner. Therefore Anganwadis must be equipped enough to provide a stimulating and enriching environment towards catering to the physical and psycho-social development of the child. Such an enabling environment will enable a child in attaining success in the primary education which will serve as a foundation for her higher education.
However, a lack of quality training for teachers and burdening them with many other health-related responsibilities have prevented the Anganwadis from focusing on providing quality care and learning in the centres.
Thus, there is a need to build the capabilities of the local communities to provide care for their children by utilizing the knowledge that is existent within them. Under this program, Prajayatna tries to promote the communities to play an active role in making the Anganwadi a holistic development centre for the children belonging to their community. It also empowers the Anganwadi workers - the teachers, to be able to cater to the needs of the children and ensure holistic development of the children.