Delhi’s Youth Have 19 Answers To How The Govt. Can ‘Put The Last Child First’

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By Arushi Sharma

In line with the global commitment to leave no one behind while advancing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, and the Government of India’s focus on inclusion and ‘putting the last child first’, Plan India has been actively supporting children’s rights (with a special emphasis on equality for girls), through its campaign – Plan For Every Child (P4EC), launched in 2016.

As part of this year’s efforts, Plan India, in collaboration with its technical partner, Pravah, is organising state-level debatathons, where youth from various parts of the country will discuss gender issues and challenges, ideas for bringing about gender-transformative changes and debates on possible solutions to address the issues. Suggestions and deliberations from these state-level youth debates will be translated into state youth charters, which will be presented at the National P4EC Conference, to be held from November 1 to November 3, 2017, at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, where the winners will come together to debate on the solutions at the grand finale.

The fifth edition of this state-level debatathon was organised in Delhi from October 23 to October 25, 2017, where 23 youth participants in the age group of 18-24 from various colleges and universities engaged in debates to discuss prioritised issues of young girls in vulnerable situations, with a focus on possible solutions. At the end of the debates, the participants put together a ‘state youth charter’ with specific recommendations on quality education and child labour, which was presented to Ramesh Negi, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR).

To ensure that no girl is left behind, the Delhi chapter of the youth charter made the following specific recommendations.

On Addressing Quality Education:

1. Ensure that schools have clean toilets for girls and safe drinking water for everyone. Also ensure provision of free access to sanitary napkins for all girls, specifically from middle school onwards.

2. Include comprehensive sex education in school curricula (middle school onwards) to break social taboos and stigmas.

3. Ensure mandatory parent-teacher meetings once in two months to enhance parent and teacher accountability.

4. Conduct periodic school audits/inspections involving school management committees to prevent girl dropouts. For example, audits can be conducted using the framework of indicators mentioned in Plan India’s Gender Vulnerability Index.

5. Reform school curricula by introducing experiential and skill-based learning processes.

6. Effective implementation of a student-teacher ratio of 1:30, as per the Right to Education (RTE) Act laid down by the government.

7. Ensure that girls have access to trained counsellors in schools and also have a space where they can discuss their issues. Schools should also make counselling outreach services available in their communities.

8. Provide subject-specific remedial support to girl students within schools. Also, take support from community members and NGOs to create informal spaces to offer learning opportunities for dance, music, arts etc.

9. Create safe and informal spaces for strengthening student and teacher relationships.

10. Budget allocation for education should be increased to 6% of GDP.

On Addressing Issues of Child Labor:

1. Build awareness through social media and mass media about the various forms of child labor and the laws against it. Also, involve eminent scholars, individuals and domain experts to host workshops about the issue in schools and universities to build more awareness.

2. Recognise people who report cases of child labor to assist in government monitoring.

3. Develop nuanced guidelines for differentiating between ‘child work’ and ‘child labour’.

4. Provide residential education programmes as rehabilitation for children who have been rescued from child labour, and include vocational training in the curriculum for strengthening possibilities of job opportunities.

5. Address child labor issues in the mandate of the National Service Scheme (NSS) or youth clubs that run in institutions of knowledge.

6. Actively participate and generate awareness on the World Day Against Child Labour (June 12) via youth groups, organisations and schools/universities.

7. Identify high-priority areas for potential child labour and host focussed integrated development programmes (on education, health and livelihood training) for children who are likely to get into child labour in each block.

8. Develop and publicise an app that tracks the progress of children who have been rescued from child labour.

9. Establish and strengthen community-based child protection mechanisms under the arena of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, where village/ward level child protection committees could be formed to eliminate child labour.

Commenting on this initiative, Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director Plan India, said, “For nearly four decades, Plan India has provided spaces for youth to continuously engage, inform and govern programmes implemented in their communities. They raise their voice to influence different stakeholders on issues that affect them and the lives of children. This initiative aims to also engage youth outside our programme areas, so that they participate in the larger discourse, raise awareness and advocate for girls’ rights.”

These state-level debatathons will culminate in the National P4EC Conference, which will bring forth the voices of 200 youths from across the country. The conference will focus specifically on girls in marginalised, excluded and vulnerable situations – and will present the interface of inclusion, access and opportunities for girls within marginalised groups.

About the Plan for Every Child – Leave No Girl Behind (P4EC) Campaign

Plan for Every Child – Leave No Girl Behind (P4EC) campaign is a movement to support the 2030 SDGs through children’s rights, with special emphasis on equality for girls. Under the initiative, efforts are made to ensure that the government and the civil society comes together to provide opportunities to scale best practices, design specialised schemes and advocate for gender-transformative changes at all levels, to address all needs for a more equitable world for the girl child (in general), and for girls in difficult circumstances (in particular).

About Plan India

Plan India is a nationally-registered independent child development organisation committed to creating a lasting impact in the lives of vulnerable and excluded children, their families and communities. For over 35 years, Plan India and its partners have improved the lives of millions of children by providing them access to protection, basic education, proper healthcare, a healthy environment, livelihood opportunities and participation in decisions which affect their lives.

Source: Youth Ki Awaaz

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