Children of the forest, Step out of discrimination, Step into Aanganwadis

Early Childhood Development

Vineeta Misra Chitranshi
At the Anganwadi children are introduced to various activities to learn and develop their skills.
UNICEF/UN0322048/Kolari

11 July 2019

To reach their full potential, children must have access to five inter-related and indivisible components of Early Childhood Development – Good health, adequate nutrition for the mother and child, security and safety, responsive caregiving and early learning.

Portrait of Pardhi tribal community members.
UNICEF/UN0319273

These mothers and children belong to the Pardhi tribal community from the Asegaon village of Babhulgaon block in Rajasthan. They were once considered the children of the forest, but they lost their identity when they, along with other tribes, were branded as a criminal by the British colonial government in 1871 for rebelling against British Raj. They were booked under the criminal tribes’ act and forced to live outside the village limits. For the last 80 years they have been facing extreme poverty and discrimination.

Pratibha Shinde, Anganwadi worker at the mother’s meeting in Asegaon village.
UNICEF/UN0319272

Pratibha Shinde, has been working as an Anganwadi worker for 25 years.

The biggest challenge in her career was to work with Pardhi women. It took her a lot of effort, time, visits, interaction and convincing to win their trust and educate them on the importance of education for early childhood development.

Pratibha Shinde, Anganwadi worker at the mother’s meeting in Asegaon village.
UNICEF/UN0319280

The revived and interactive mother’s meetings are now done age-wise by Pratibha. The participation of the Pardhi mothers has increased and through the alternative education system at the Anganwadi Center, there is increased access to quality preschool education for the next generation of the Pardhis.

Portrait of Ayisha Sanjan Pawar 5 – year old with Mother Reshma Sanjan Pawar.
UNICEF/UN0319275
Portrait of five-year old Ayisha Sanjan Pawarold with Mother Reshma Sanjan Pawar.

Five-year-old Ayisha’s mother, like many more mothers, was hesitant earlier, but with continued efforts from Pratibha, Ayisha’s mother happily brings her to the Anganwadi now to introduce her to interactive learning. She is one the many children who is accessing this change and getting the opportunity to bloom to her full potential through quality education.

Ayisha Sanjan Pawar 5 – year old, learning how to count through the alternative education system at the Anganwadi Center.
UNICEF/UN0319276

Ayisha is learning numbers as she playfully counts those attractive bangles.

Through her consistent effort Pratibha has begun a positive change in the lives of the entire community and their future generations.