Anita Sarathi, 26, is a proud mother. Her five-year-old daughter Harshita has over the last few months become fluent with letters, numbers and rhymes.
Not only this, little Harshita can easily identify colours, shapes and objects and engage in interactive activities while smoothly handling an educational tablet called IQ Slate.
And no, Harshita is not a student of any high-flying private school in a big city.
Rather, she was pulled out of a faraway private pre-school by her parents and is now a regular at the government-run anganwadi centre at her village Khirsadoh in Parasia block of tribal-dominated Chhindwara district, around 280 km from Bhopal.
Several dozens of children like Harshita in ten anganwadi centres of the district have shown remarkable academic and health progress over last one year, thanks to an innovation of providing educational tablets by the district office of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) under the department of women and child development.
Enthused by the remarkable results, the district authorities extended the innovation to 56 other anganwadi centres on occasion of Children’s Day on Friday. Chhindwara is the only district in state where tablets are being used for anganwadi activities.
"These tablets are loaded with pre-school educational interactive material that attracts children immensely and helps them learn quickly. Handling the gadget is a major attraction for them," Swarnima Shukla, district project officer of ICDS told HT.
As a result, the attendance of the children in these anganwadis has gone up from around 60% to over 95%. The development record of the children is also maintained in the tablets.
And the use of the tablets is not restricted to children. They are also loaded with maternal and child health informative and educative material and are used by the anganwadi workers to create awareness about health, child care and feeding practices among expectant and lactating mothers as well as adolescent girls.
The beneficiaries are more than happy. Ramcharan Kharpuse, a young farmer from village Goni in Bicchua block says that his daughter Muskaan is so attracted by the new facilities, especially the tablet that she wants to go to her anganwadi all the time.
"Also she gets food, learns good hygiene and has become adept in interpersonal interaction. I am sure she would grow up to be a learned lady," the proud father says.