Stat-wide launch of Sajag in Goa starts from September 7, 2020.
With anganwadis closed during Corona times, there is been widespread concern that the youngest children will suffer disproportionately. At this time, parents widely feel emotional stress from actual and potential loss of livelihoods, uncertainties regarding their own and loved ones’ health and the disorientation that comes from being socially isolated. As a result, children are at risk of starving, being neglected, abused, pushed into child labour and worse.
It has, therefore, become urgent to provide parents and other caregivers with resources that will give them some emotional support as well as provide guidance for howthey may create a developmentally supportive environment for children during these times.
Centre for Learning Resources has created a series short audio tutorials for empowering the parent. Simple ideas for the parents to help them create a loving and nurturing atmosphere, foster positive attitudes and suggest playful activities for overall development of their children.
These messages reach the parents in remote nooks of the Chhattisgarh and Bihar through the Integrated Child Development Services(ICDS) system. Composed of district officers, program officers, lady supervisors, and the anganwadi didi, is the chain interfaces with the parents.
Transmitted through the ICDS system, Sajag messages reach the anganwadi didi every week through What’s app or Bluetooth. Armed with a mobile phone, which in many cases belongs to a male member of her family, shegoes from home to home to play and explain the messages to families of the children enrolled at her anganwadi centre.
Sajag messages prod parents to think and act on various facets of parenting. For instance, on how to deal with restlessness in children or cope with domestic unrest; or helping children develop curiosity for the world around them, or to make parents remember their own challenging experiences and recount their stories to children.
Sajag messages also seek to support parents in reaching a quieter emotional state that will make it possible for them to be attentive to the children in the way they need. This is necessary in an environment when caregivers are continuously struggling with questions of where the next meal will come from, where a loved one is stranded, whether a mild infection will turn into a life-threatening illness, etc.
The Sajag program is running state-wide in Chhattisgarh where it is currently reaching more than five lakh families through about 35,000 anganwadi workers. Sajag also reaches about 30,000 families in Gaya and Purnia districts in Bihar through nearly 7,000 anganwadi workers. Bihar government has expressed keen interest in expanding the programme to the entire state. The programme is also expected to start shortly in Goa where it will reachnearly 25,000 families.
Smaller scale programmes have also commenced in about 5,000 families in Pune (in Marathi) and about 300 families in Lucknow.
In these times of COVID, Sajag is an effort to contribute to the well-being of our youngest children.