Elect those who will work for children, urge NGOs

April 7th, 2009 - 7:24 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) With the elections just around the corner, civil society organisations working for child rights are urging people to vote keeping in mind that those who come to power stand firm on their commitments to work for children’s welfare.
Amendment of the Child Labour Prohibition and Protection Act is one of the key issues that NGOs are fighting for.

Umesh Gupta of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) said: “As citizens of this nation we have the responsibility of voting such a government to power which has genuine concerns towards social issues. One of the primary concerns in that context is the amendment of the child labour law.”

“The amendment is important because child labour, in all forms and industries, is a crime and not just a few which are presently named under the law,” he said.

Similarly, Priya Subramanian of international charity Save the Children said that all political parties should pledge to do all they can for strict implementation of the child labour law.

“One of our primary concerns and demands is that all the political parties should pledge to ensure strict implementation of the child labour law and also work for its amendment so that all forms of child labour up to the age of 14 is banned,” Subramanian said.

Free and compulsory education is another demand that the NGOs are pushing for.

“All political parties should pledge to put in place a comprehensive and inclusive education plan and policy that addresses the needs of the most marginalised children. Amendment of the 86th amendment on the Fundamental Right to Education to include children from the age of three to six years should also be on the agenda,” Subramanian said.

As of now, every child between the age of six and 14 has the right to free and compulsory education.

Gupta said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, when they came to power, had pledged to raise public spending on education to six percent of the GDP, with at least half of it being spent on primary and secondary education, but presently expenditure on education was less than three percent of the GDP.

“And as per the interim budget of 2009-10, there was no indication that this amount would be increased,” Gupta said.

“What we demand therefore is that all political parties should include in their manifesto, free and compulsory education to children up to the age of 18, as per the United Nations Declaration on Child Justice, and six percent of the GDP be spent on education,” he added.

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