This 30-page Children’s Rights’ Manifesto named ‘Kuttikalude Avakashapatrika’ was designed by the children themselves

A Childrens Manifesto What they expect from aspiring Kerala MLAs
news Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 19:54

With assembly polls just round the corner, political fronts are busy promoting countless innovative promises in the respective manifestos as part of their election campaigns. That’s when a group of 30 school kids from different parts of Kerala gathered at the Rajagiri College in Ernakulam decided to come up with their very own manifesto for child rights.

This 30-page Children’s Rights’ Manifesto named ‘Kuttikalude Avakashapatrika’ was designed by the children themselves in a workshop conducted by Rajagiri’s Social Science department in collaboration with UNICEF Chennai.

The ages of these kids vary from 11 to17 years with 11-year-old TR Keerthana from Kadamakkudy panchayat in Ernakulam being the youngest.

The manifesto is divided into four sections aptly named Survival, Development, Protection and Participation. You can find listed around 50 requirements under each of these categories.

Making a strong demand for almost 30% of the state budget to be allocated for child welfare in the state, the manifesto also seeks to highlight various contemporary issues faced by children including child-labour, child-abuse, foeticide, segregation of tribal kids, inequality, malnutrition, child-marriages and corporal punishments.

It also stresses on the imperative need for the state to ensure creation of a safe and secure environment for children with the launch of schemes that focus on child-education, food, shelter and other basic necessities needed for a child to thrive in life.

Deepak G -one of the organizers and coordinators of this Outreach programme- prefers to view this novel venture as a genuine bid on the children’s part to speak up for their rights even though they don’t yet possess any voting rights.

“Since these kids have no votes of their own, political parties may see this as utterly irrelevant. But we need to understand that they too have a voice of their own and voters in Kerala should wake up and vote for only those who can ensure Child’s Rights here,” he elaborates.

A few of the recommendations are listed below:

- Consider the rights of transgender children so as to integrate them into mainstream society. Provide them with equal opportunities while counselling others around to accept such kids.

- The government should keep a check on junk food and its availability near schools. Anything that could harm a child’s health should be banned.

- Check authenticity of energy drinks like Complan, Horlicks etc -which are banned in many countries- with its misleading advertorial claims

- Effectively use the funds allotted for children’s welfare.

- Monitor children who have access to social media.

- Facilities for differently-abled children to study in normal rather than special schools so as to give them equal opportunity for studies and all extra-curricular activities.

- Total ban on sale of drugs and toffees containing tobacco (e.g. Chocolate Scissors) near educational institutions.

- State-level classes to work on children-guardian ties to enable kids to open up on their worries, insecurities and cares with their parent or guardian.

- Encourage adoption.

- Child-friendly police in place. Bus stops near schools need to be monitored to prevent harassment of any kind.

- Ensure a suitable living environment for children to curb the increase in juvenile crime.

- Equality among children (including HIV-infected ones and those of migrant labourers) in educational institutions irrespective of caste, creed, gender, religion and economic status.

- Compulsory sex-education in schools.

- Impart teaching and training to kids on how to fend off any form of abuse.

- Provide public playing spaces as well as discussion venues for children.

- Ensure sanitary pad-vending machines in every school along with clean toilets.

- Groups like Balasabhas and Bala Panchayats where grown-ups and kids can interact on an equal footing to sort out all issues that needs to be redressed.


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