Chennai: In an era where parents stress over school admissions and the quality of education in private schools, Tirunelveli’s first woman collector Shilpa Prabhakar Satish, has preferred to send her daughter to a government-run anganwadi near her bungalow.
A source close to the collector said that the daughter, two-year-old Geetanjali would be all alone while her mother was at work. “Since she was not old enough to go to school, Shilpa decided to send her to the anganwadi to play with other children her age,” they said.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Shilpa, said “The quality of the Anganwadis in the district is very good. The one near my bungalow has everything my daughter needs to play with. These Anganwadi monitors the child’s nutritional intake maintains health records. My daughter loves going there.” All parents, irrespective of class, should consider sending their children to anganwadis,” she adds, saying that her daughter has been able to pick up many Tamil words recently.
Educationists welcomed the move, encouraging other government officials and other influential individuals to follow suit. “A few district collectors have done this. Kanyakumari, Virudhunagar and Erode collectors have done the same previously. The Allahabad High Court in 2016 ordered the chief secretary of the Uttar Pradesh government to make provisions or developments in government schools so that the government officers including the high court judges who get their allowances from the government treasuries should admit their kids only in government schools. We could take a leaf or two from that order,” said educationist, Prince Gajendra Babu.
However, some criticise the collector for the move, claiming that she is drawing attention to her personal project to improve the government schools in the district.
“She used to serve in the education department of the Chennai corporation. She wants to bring those changes here too, but who will send their children to anganwadis?” one official asked.
Another parent of a child attending the same anganwadi has pointed out that even though the child was admitted to the Anganwadi almost a month ago, she is allowed to wear coloured clothes while the others wear blue striped uniforms.
Lack of facilities, increasing publicity
While collectors and others may have begun to send their children to Anganwadis, many still lack basic facilities, say experts. “Of over 100 IAS officers in the state, three are sending their children to Anganwadis. Others send them to private or foreign institutions,” said an educationist in the city. They may be torchbearers but are they good parents? “The Tirunelveli collector may be doing a good thing there, but most Anganwadis do not even have basic facilities. There are no benches or chairs, not enough teachers and caretakers and some do not even have washrooms,” he said. The lack of facilities has to be addressed. Then, everyone’s children can go to government institutions, he added.