BENGALURU: The decision by the Department of Public Instruction to start LKG and UKG classes next year in all government schools could effectively render Anganwadi workers jobless, the women fear. A protest was held at Town Hall on Monday by the Karnataka Anganwadi Workers Association to highlight their concern.
In May this year, the Education Department announced this decision and set up kindergarten schools in 276 public schools across the state for the academic year 2019-2020.This has affected 1,500 Anganwadis which cater to the 3 to 6 age group, said Nalinakshi, general secretary, Dodballapur zilla panchayat.“We teach alphabets and numbers in Kannada and English, rhymes and more for children of this age group. If the government goes ahead with this move, children will go to government schools. Instead, we demand that the money set aside for this be used to strengthen Angwandis and start pre-primary education,” said S Varalakshmi, state president for Karnataka Anganwadi Workers Association.
When the government started the pilot project in 176 panchayat headquarters this year, it affected Anganwadis in those areas. “Of the 25-odd children who would come to the Anganwadis, 20 left to join the government schools. We give injection, provide health education, pre-primary education and give nutritious food,” Nalinakshi said.
They believe the education they provide is superior to that provided in government schools, in addition to the mid-day meals.“ While government mid-day meals include only dal and rice, we give milk, chikkis, eggs and other nutritious food to children,” Nalinakshi added.
Considered ‘honorarium’ workers, they have little to no social security net. They do not have pension and regularly spend out of their pocket, to purchase vegetables as the department does not disburse money to them on time.A meagre Rs 3 is allotted per pregnant woman or lactating mother for mid-day meals and Rs 1 to 2 per child who comes to the Anganwadis.
“We shell out Rs 5,000 per month and get it back only 2 to 3 months later. Though the government hiked our salary from Rs 8,000 to Rs 1,000 in October 2018, it has not been implemented on the ground. We have been demanding the minimum wage of Rs 21,000,” she said.On December 10, nearly 40,000 of them will walk from Tumakuru to Bengaluru to protest against the move.