Balwadi is an Indian pre-school run for economically weaker sections of the society, either by government or NGOs. It has been defined by Grewal who is quoted by R. P. Shukla as "A rural pre-primary school run economically but scientifically and using as many educational aids as possible, prepared from locally available material". It was developed by Tarabai Modak, the first balwadi was started in Bordi a coastal village in Thane district of Maharashtra by Nutan Bal Shikshan Sangh in 1945.
Modak started two types of balwadis namely central balwadi and angan balwadi or anganwadi. Central balwadis function during regular school hours and are centrally located whereas angan balwadis are located in the neighbourhood of the children targeted and have hours at their convenience. Modak's was a pioneer effort in providing non-formal education at pre-school level in India.
The purpose of balwadis is to provide a child facilities for physical and mental growth at school and at home. Thousands of balwadis have been set up all over India by government and non-government agencies.
Balwadis were developed as a part of the government of India's poverty alleviation programme by universalising education. They were developed for children of India's rural poor. The Balwadi Nutrition Programme provides food for children at these schools.
- Inside Mumbai Children of the Balwadi: Changing the Face of Education, by Asha Saraswat. Ices Pub, 2005. ISBN 0974276510.
- How to run a Balwadi: sample of a do-it-yourself guide-book, by Anutai Wagh. Unesco-UNICEF Co-operative Programme, 1979.
- Singh. Preschool Education. APH Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 978-81-7648-757-3. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
- R.P. Shukla (1 January 2004). Early Childhood Care And Education. Sarup & Sons. p. 106. ISBN 978-81-7625-474-8. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- Sanjay Bhattacharya (1 January 2008). Social Work : Interventions And Management. Deep & Deep Publications. p. 57. ISBN 978-81-8450-073-8. Retrieved 17 July 2012.