Students from across different districts in the state came together on Monday, November 20, for the occasion of International Child Rights Day (November 21), to discuss the issues they faced in schools and formulate a priority list to present to the state government.
The five priority areas include:
1) Learning recovery in children
2) Ending malnutrition in children
3) Eradicating child abuse and violence
4) Promoting universal immunisation
5) Addressing climate change
Over 70 children representatives will discuss their issues with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday, November 21, at Vidhana Soudha, becoming stakeholders in the conversation that will lead to efficient policymaking. They will also be requesting the authorities to take action on some burning and pressing issues.
Leading up to the session, Nagasimha Rao, Director of Child Rights Trust, along with several partner NGOs, under the Karnataka Child Rights Observatory (KCRO), have been consolidating these children-led meetings with officials since 2008. “These meetings are important as they help children analyse issues in detail and work as a team. Children also build skills such as public speaking, leadership, confidence and other life skills,” he added.
During the state-level Child Rights Parliament on Monday, children’s representatives pointed out the lack of proper computer education in schools, the rise of sexual abuse cases in school children, drug abuse, a missing forum for children to discuss their issues and the lack of permanent teachers.
Rao added, “A major problem students spoke about is the need for a counsellor in schools. At least they should visit twice a month so students can talk about their issues and reach out for help in critical cases. Many of them seek mental health advice and cannot speak about their perils at home or with their peers.”
During the Child Rights Week held between November 14 and 21, KCRO engaged children all over the state in various activities, such as reading news, watching informative documentaries, such as one on the perils of the Devadasi community, the role of media in reporting children’s issues, the mental health of the community.
Karnataka is the only state to hold a Child Rights Parliament that is heard by CMs and is happening after a gap of five years. Child Rights Parliament, Child Rights Grama Sabha, and Children Clubs are important to encourage conversation around children and their future.