However, situation is entirely different and pathetic in many rural areas in the district, where children either do not have anganwadis or have to walk long way to reach the nearest centre.
Though the Zilla Panchayat opens dozens of anganwadi centres in cities and towns, they show least interest in opening centres in rural areas especially in Western Ghat region. There are hundreds of tribals, who live in forests in the Western Ghats regions of Dakshina Kannada district. These families have no option but to send their children to school only after five years of age.
Kuthlur, a forest region in Naravi Gram Panchayat of Belthangadi taluk, is a best example for the government’s apathy. There is no anganvadi or school in Kuthlur, even though more than 60 families dwell in the forest. They have title deeds for the land, which they are cultivating. However, their dreams of educating their children still remains a mirage as there is no anganwadi or school in the region.
The Women and Child Welfare Department had opened an anganwadi centre at Barengadi in Kuthlur two years ago. Many children in Kuthlur were going to the centre regularly. A teacher named Shashikala too used to teach little children with great zeal. However, the centre did not function for more than a year.
The teacher was tranferred to the nearest anganwadi centre at Nelyapalke, which is about 10 kilometres away from Kuthlur.
Speaking to City Herald, a villager Vittala Malekudiya said that children in Kuthlur are deprived of their right, which their counterparts in towns and cities enjoy.
“There are nearly 40 - 50 children below five years of age in the region, who have been denied of their right. Parents do not send their children to Nelyapalke since it is too far and moreover, it is not possible for children to walk through the woods,” he said adding that the authorities concerned should take initiatives to open anganvadi at Barengadi.
Meanwhile, the condition of the anganwadi centre in Nelyapalke too is pathetic. It is a tiny shed made of metal sheets, where children have to sit on the floor and learn.
While water gushes into the centre during rainy season, scorching heat leaves children dehydrated literally during summer.
11 anganvadis closed
Though the government had sanctioned 2,082 anganvadi centres for the district, only 2,071 are functioning properly at present.
A total of 321 anganwadi centres were sanctioned by the government for Belthangadi taluk. However, currently only 293 are functioning, while eight were closed due to various reasons.