Launching Media Engagement for Home-Based ECCE and Parenting Programme for 3-6-year-old children during COVID-19
The Department of Women & Child Development and Social Welfare (WCD&SW), Government of West Bengal in yet another pioneering effort has been successful in reaching out to parents of early learners enrolled in Anganwadi Centres of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) through the Home-Based Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and Parenting Programme.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ICDS Centres are currently unable to provide regular services in the best interest of children as enshrined in the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child and Juvenile Justice Act 2015. This learning programme was developed in collaboration with UNICEF for 3-6-year-old children and was launched in May 2020 to facilitate and support parents to attend to and address both psychosocial as well as learning needs of children within homes by engaging children in fun-filled activities to create positive environments.
The package provides guidance on parenting skills to enhance the impact of positive parenting in the early years of a child which in turn influences the lifelong learning and cognitive development of children.
Estimated to reach out to 27 lakh enrolled children in Anganwadi Centres across all 23 districts of West Bengal, the programme attempted to continuously enhance the outreach with particular focus to bring into its fold, children from remote and hard to reach areas and improve its inclusiveness. From an outreach of 7 lakh 93 thousand (26%) in May, the coverage in June went up to 10 lakh and 71 thousand in June (32%) to reach over 14 lakhs (54%) by end August. This progression clearly indicates the need, acceptance and growing popularity of the package. It also demonstrates parents’ efforts to prioritize children’s wellbeing despite several challenges experienced owing to the impact of the pandemic.
The launch of the media engagement through Jadavpur University’s Community Radio Station (90.8 MHz) today by the Hon’ble Minister of State, (Independent Charge) , WCD&SW, Dr. Shashi Panja in the presence of the Chief of Field Office for UNICEF West Bengal, Mohammad Mohiuddin, Vice Chancellor, Jadavpur University, Professor Suranjan Das, Prof. Iman Kalyan Lahiri, Department of International Relations and Head, Community Radio, Jadavpur University, Director, Vikramshila Education Resource society, Smt. Shubhra Chatterji and senior officials from the WCD&SW department marks the beginning of the next level of outreach. This will help to supplement the initial coverage achieved through efforts of Anganwadi Workers who disseminated the package while on home visits to deliver Take Home Rations to pregnant women and mothers of children aged 6 months to 6 years. These visits were additionally supported by WhatsApp messages by Anganwadi Workers who shared the weekly learning package to dedicated WhatsApp groups specially made for parents and motivated them to use the package.
The new initiative will use multiple media platforms to expand and build on the outreach so that more children can benefit from the package. Accordingly, the Department has plans to further promote the programme for wider reach for the user groups through Doordarshan, local Cable Channels and other radio platforms. The package is expected to support parents to positively engage their children and contribute to make qualitative differences to the lives of 3-6 -year-old children who have mostly been within confinement of their homes as adherence to central and state governments’ guidance on lockdown and with subsequent restricted movements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This novel initiative of broadcasting the package through Jadavpur University Community FM radio will benefit 2,79,637 children and their parents across 51 ICDS projects of 4 Districts.
It may also be mentioned that the West Bengal government’s recognizable achievement has been one of a kind in line with similar other feats of curricular reform in Early Childhood Education in 2012 and then the adoption of the new ECCE curriculum in 2013, which has made the state a Learning Resource for Early Learning Planners, Specialists who have influenced Policy on Early Childhood Development in India.
By Ms. Pratyusha Mukherjee, a Senior Journalist working for BBC and other media outlets, also a special contributor to IBG News & IBG NEWS BANGLA. In her illustrated career she has covered many major events.