Empowering children to tackle their problems themselvesNovember 14th, 2011 - 8:32 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) Eleven-year-old Azad Kumar, a class five student at Pindara village in Varanasi was disgusted when his teacher asked him to clean toilets. Voicing his views in the “Bal Samuh (children’s congregation)”, he managed to get this practice stopped.
Meanwhile, 16-year-old Sujeet, the leader of Bal Manch in Uttar Pradesh’s Manikpur village, along with other children reported to the district magistrate that mid-day meals were not being provided. Within three days, proper mid-day meals were being supplied to not just his school, but 19 other schools in and around Manikpur.
It is not just Azad or Sujeet, there are innumerable children across the villages of India who have succeeded in addressing issues and problems facing them by raising them at such “Bal Samuh”, “Bal Manch”, “Child Federation”, “Balika” or “Bal Panchayat” — children collectives across Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh established by NGO Child Rights and You (CRY), in partnership with various other NGOs in the states, to reach children at the grassroots levels.
The children’s group see the underprivileged children themselves holding meetings to discuss various issues that affect them and decide how to curb the problems.
Ten children from various villages in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi participated in CRY’s “Bal Sawaal Bal Dhamaal” programme here Monday and shared their views how they faced and solved problems in their village.
“In the Bal Manch, we have weekly meetings where we discuss various issues that affect us and then decide our agenda to curb a problem,” Yashaswi Kumud, a class 7 student from Bairagarh village in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal district and member of the Bal Panchayat said.
Yashaswi also said that back in her village, they have stopped a child marriage of her friend after a complaint as well as the practice of making girl students clean classrooms and utensils after the mid-day meal.
“Now I and my friends in the Bal Samuh want the school to provide a proper rest room, as school provides mid-day meals near an open ground used as a toilet,” she said.
Girl education is one of the issues taken up strongly by many of the collectives.
“We stage dramas, and street plays to promote girl education,” said Obita, 13, from Delhi.
Meanwhile, 15-year-old Gabbar Singh from Rajasthan’s Bharatpur district said he and other members of Bal Samuh took steps to deal with the problem of girls dropping out from school.
“Many girls in our village were not coming to school as their parents were reluctant to send them, given that our school had no woman teacher. We submitted a memorandum to the block education officer (BEO) and reported it to gram (village) panchayat, and within four months, a female teacher was appointed. Now girls outnumber the boys in our school,” he said.
Child labour and gender discrimination are some of the other issue these children have been campaigning against. The children are taking each issue on behalf of their toiling counterparts.
“These groups give children the opportunity to believe in themselves, connect with one another, struggle out the odds and ultimately they create solutions and address their own challenges,” Puja Marwaha, chief executive, CRY said.
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Tags: azad, bhopal, child marriage, collectives, district magistrate, girl students, marriage, mid day, New Delhi, ngo, ngos, panchayat, partnership, toilets, underprivileged children, utensils, uttar pradesh, villages of india