Domjur: To promote Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), the West Bengal government on Friday launched 'Shishu Aloy' initiative in Rudrapur of Howrah district's Domjur, besides 20 other districts in the state.
With the mission to make the children 'school-readiness', the state government has set a target of setting up 1.16 lakh Sishu Aloys in the state, Minister of State for Women and Child Development and Social Welfare Shashi Panja said while launching the programme at Howrah's Purba Rudrapur Kalitola.
Besides Rudrapur, 1,000 Sishu Aloys were inaugurated in 20 districts including Purulia, Purba and Paschim Medinipur, Bankura, Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, Darjeeling, Dakshin Dinajpur, Birbhum, North and South 24 Parganas.
The centres are also meant for building the capacity of supervisors and Anganwadi workers.
Along with Panja, secretary WCD & SW department, Roshni Sen, UNICEF India's Deputy Representative Programmes, Henriette Ahrens, UNICEF India's Chief, Advocacy and Communication, Caroline Den Dulk were present.
"It's our dream come true today. We started working on this back in 2012 when the Centre had asked us. These are like Montessori schools... These are advanced Anganwadi centres where children will be prepared for schools. They will get food as soon as reaching Sishu Aloys and also while leaving, with proper care about their nutrition need. Children will also get medical assistance," Panja said.
These centres are quite advanced because UNICEF has created the curriculum, she added.
The WCD & SW department through the Directorate of ICDS and technical support from UNICEF, has contributed to the conceptualisation and development of the ECCE curriculum.
"As a way forward, our department and UNICEF will work together for rolling out Sishu Aloy initiative across the state so that we can ensure every child gets the best start to education," Panja said.
"West Bengal is one of the first states in the country to adopt a new ECCE curriculum through series of consultative process with technical support of the UNICEF, educationalists, civil society organisations and academicians like Ambeddkar University.
"Around 400 master trainers have already been trained on the ECCE curriculum to roll out the ECCE programme across the state to ensure that we can reach out to every child," she said.
Incidentally, the state has also set up ECCE state council for effective implementation and monitoring of ECCE and has emerged as one of the forerunners along with Tamil Nadu.