• Anganwadi Workers Call Off Their Protest After Government Agrees to Their Demands

    Newsclick Report

    November 28, 2017

     

    The Anganwadi workers and helpers, who had gathered in all the district headquarters in Punjab under the banner of Anganwadi Mulazam Union, called off their protest after the government has given a head up on their demands. The workers had been protesting to express their opposition against the state government’s policies to merge the Anganwadis with Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).

    As the result of the struggle of the Anganwadi Mulazam Union workers which is affiliated to All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH), Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has given assurance in writing that no Anganwadi centre would be affected with the commencement of pre-primary classes. The government also made it clear that the Anganwadi centres would function from their set locations and the government would not shut down any centre in Punjab.

    Earlier, the government had made policies to merge 800 primary schools and the decision to start pre-primary classes in government schools by merging the Anganwadi centres without considering the workers in this sector. The pre-primary classes at the government schools were intended for the children in the age group of 3-6 years which comes under ICDS. The pre-primary classes named as Khed Mahal, play palace, ultimately would have resulted in the shutdown of the Anganwadis.

    The government’s decision to merge the centres had raised several concerns of employment for around 64,000 staffs working in 26,833 Anganwadi centres across the state.

    Other than the Congress-led Punjab government, the Centre is also on the verge to merge thousands of Anganwadis with schools across the country. Following the Rajasthan government’s merger policies, Union Ministry of Human Resource Development is in talks with the Women and Child Development Ministry to decide on merges, a report says.

    The Centre’s policies are on the grounds of Rajasthan's model of integrated Anganwadis and government schools which is ideal in "assuring transition of children from care centres to schools as this model acquaints children with the school environment at an early age”.

    The Centre has signed a Memorandum of Understanding too between the Ministry of Women and Child Development and Cairn India Ltd, a subsidiary of the Multinational ‘Vedanta’ “to develop and modernise 4,000 next-generation Anganwadis in the country”.

    Pointing out the Centre’s withdrawal from its responsibility of providing the children right to food, health and education, AIFAWH said “In the Union budget 2015-16 government has changed the funding pattern, putting the entire responsibility of running the scheme to the state government. The Government of India had drastically cut down the budget allocation for ICDS to mere Rs 8335.77 crores in 2015-16 from Rs 18,195 crores last year. This cut comes in spite of the proposed allocation as per Planning Commission in the 12th Plan for ICDS was Rs.23,025 crores.”

    “Narendra Modi is the first Prime Minister who had cut down the budget for ICDS by around 60% in his first full budget”, AIFAWH added.


     

    First published in Newsclick.

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