The State government’s decision of calling upon Secondary and Higher Secondary Schools to adopt anganwadis and balwadis in their vicinity is a welcome step given the state of affairs of anganwadis. This could go a long way in strengthening the foundation of a child’s learning even as the State is headed toward the National Education Policy.
While the move is positive, the unnecessary hurry with which the department has shown is surprising. The Directorate of Education has asked the institutions to furnish their adoption plans within less than three days even though a major change is in the offing, one that requires detailed logistical and academic planning. A rather serious issue is being treated casually, and the department continues to operate on a ‘high command’ culture.
While anganwadis operating in government-owned premises will continue to operate in their existing premises with academic support from the parent institution, those anganwadis housed in rented premises will have to be accommodated in the institution that is adopting them. This could be a logistical nightmare for schools and higher secondaries that are running at full capacity. Canacona faces a problem because the 25 schools in the area are required to adopt 83 anganwadis out of which 55 are on rented premises. With such an equation, the department will only be burdening the existing schools forcing them into a difficult situation.
The department aims to strengthen the foundation of learning by engaging institutions in the locality, and that’s a positive. However, what one also derives from this is that the government has realised its failure to sustain anganwadis, and hence taken recourse to support systems. The question then is, why is the government looking at adding more anganwadis if it is already feeling the heat with the existing ones? It was in June that the State government had sought the Centre’s sanction to set up 60 more anganwadis as part of Goa’s plans to commemorate 60 years of Liberation. Goa has 1,262 anganwadis, with some of them in pathetic condition, and 700 operating from rented premises.
Agreed that the government is paying huge rent on premises, but by shifting these anganwadis, the parent schools could face a dilemma of accommodating the additional students and teaching could suffer. These issues need detailed discussions and planning, and certainly not the way currently done.
Controversy has also hit on the government’s recent decision to shift two schools. The education department plan to shift Government Primary School at Barazan to Khadki-Khotoda in Sattari and move another government primary school in Advoi Sattari to Dongarwada Vante in Bhironda. Both these moves have been opposed by the locals because of several issues.
Before bringing about any change there should be a thorough discourse with stakeholders even to the extent of discussing academic support and how to add value to a child’s learning. Adding value to education outweighs other factors and should be a primary concern. No doubt the anganwadi move is an excellent proposition, but the execution is very poor.