Odisha govt, BvLF team up to better lives for kids, sign MoUs

New Delhi: The government of Odisha and international grant-making organisation Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) have come together in an effort to improve opportunities for young children in the state.

The government and the Hague-based organisation have signed two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) to this effect, which have the stated objective of making life better for the children aged 1-8 years with social and economic disadvantage.

As part of one MoU, BvLF will invest 1.5 million euros and work along with the Women and Child Development Department for 2016-19 to incorporate best practices in field-tested model of mother tongue-based early childhood education in 6,681 anganwadi centres catering to 2,50,000 children in 12 tribal districts of Odisha, a joint statement read.

“BvLF and the Odisha government will collaboratively address the challenges and systematic bottlenecks in the coverage of early childhood services in the state so that future efforts would encourage replication to the additional 1.1 million tribal children under six and eventually across the state to non-tribal children,” the statement added.

“We believe our partnership would enable young tribal children to experience a holistic development, with opportunities for stimulation and brain development through better early childhood care and education in their mother tongue,” said Vishal Kumar Dev, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Women and Child Development, Odisha.

The second MoU talks of urban mandate with a focus on child-friendly city planning and design.

Under this, BvLF will invest in related projects and work in tandem with the state government for three years to tackle issues of rapid urbanisation and assist the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) in developing an advanced and effective planning and management framework.

BvLF has funded the National Institute of Urban Affairs with 8,32,330 euros to set up a Child Friendly Smart City Center in Bhubaneswar, which will be responsible for capacity building of town planners and staff of BMC and BDA.

“This partnership will set an example for other cities to follow as we address the challenges of rapid urbanisation, depleting public infrastructure, social and economic well-being and public health,” said Dharitri Patnaik, Senior Country Representative of BvLF.