Early childhood development for a good start in life: 3,414 children have benefited from the support of the Move & Improve project in India over the past four years. Now the educational project is coming to an end as planned. It aimed to support disadvantaged children in their development and encourage them to start school.

The project set up 50 early education centres and trained teachers to ensure that the children are successful at school in the long term. However, state nursery school teachers were also given further training at the request of the local education department. One of them was Sunita. In an interview, she tells us how SAD’s training has changed her everyday life.

SA4D: How long have you been working as an Anganwadi* worker?

Sunita Dubey: It’s been 23 years now. I chose this kind of work because I want to do something for our community, meet the people of our society and do something good for them, mobilise them. I work with children; I try my best to educate them, hoping that as many as possible will have a good life. I’m looking forward to seeing what they will do in the future. I will be really proud.

*The government-run child care centres are called “Anganwadi” in India. They were started by the government in 1975 as part of their Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme to combat child hunger and malnutrition.

When did you attend the Move & Improve training?

I attended the training in February 2019. Even though I have been working as an Anganwadi worker for over 20 years, I have never before attended such a training – we learnt so much. The ICDS training workshops focused more on community mobilisation, vaccination, menstrual hygiene for adolescent girls and how to avoid malnutrition in children.

How did the training affect your daily work with the children?

We learned a lot about group games related to holistic child development. Before the training, we simply used to play with the children, focusing more on nutrition, but we’ve never aligned the activities with their development. Thanks to the training, I now understand how children can learn through different playful activities and how these are linked to their brain development. And the children are really happy about all the new games and activities we work with. They are more engaged and don’t leave the classroom anymore. It took some time for them to adjust to the new rules and games, but they soon started liking them a lot. The Move & Improve training has been game-changing for us and our daily work with the children.

Thank you very much for the interview, Sunita.

What now?

Developing the capacity of our local partners is at the heart of our participatory approach. That way we guarantee the sustainability of our work: our local implementation partner, the Centre for Rural Education and Development Action (CREDA), will continue using SA4D’s sport and play-based approach. To ensure the long-term success of three to six-year-old children at school, we also involved families and local government  authorities. We showed caregivers how they can support their children. We also ensured the municipality’s support and cooperated  with relevant government agencies so that existing government services such as immunisation can be offered at the centres. Through SA4D’s sport and play-based approach, the children at the centre learn what will be expected of them at school in a playful way. Also in the future.

Through SA4D’s sport and play-based approach, the children at the centre learn what will be expected of them at school in a playful way – not just now but also in the future.