Publication Details

Siraj-Blatchford, I. (1995). Nourish and nurture: World Food Programme assistance for early childhood education in India's Integrated Child Development Service. UNESCO.


Part of UNESCO's Action Research in Family and Early Childhood series, this monograph is based upon a technical report on the Early Childhood Education (ECE) component of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program in India. This document overviews the ICDS and how better use could be made of World Food Programme (WFP) food aid along with the ECE component, including the aspect of providing education to mothers and adolescent girls. The report notes that the WFP has provided support to ICDS since March 1976; the other main donor supporting ICDS is the American organization, CARE. Also noted is India's long history of interest in early childhood education, going back to the early twentieth century, although significant outreach to poorer communities began only with the launching of ICDS. Following an introduction, part 2 of the report describes the state of education in India. Part 3 details ICDS objectives, philosophy, organization, funding, and other support from WFP and other sources. This section also describes the Anganwadi Centres, the main form of outreach of ICDS, which create links with schools, local women's groups, and village councils. Part 4 covers issues of the early childhood component of ICDS, including the debate over the "quantity versus quality" of the program. Part 5 describes the following basic ideas behind the program: (1) learning begins at birth; (2) mothers need to be recognized, supported, and educated, because of their direct impact'on children; and (3) the Indian cultural practices of breast-feeding, physical contact, and play help babies gain warmth, security, and responsiveness to others. The WFP's nutritional support is described in part 6, which asserts the need for more help from WFP in the area of childhood education. Part 7 lists 10 recommendations for improving administration of ICDS.