Child Parliaments in India enable the Dalit children we support to make their voices heard. Currently, 180 children from our Learning Centres are involved in 12 Child Parliaments across Patna. All the units have recently completed their elections and have been busy! Read on to find out what they have been up to.
CHILD PARLIAMENTS IN INDIA
In India, ‘Child Parliaments’ help to give the children we support through 31 Learning Centres, a voice. Twelve 'Child Parliaments', consisting of ten elected ‘ministers’, represent their friends, learn about their rights and peacefully campaign in their communities.
They have a huge, positive impact in their communities, improving health and hygiene, holding immunisation drives, helping children access education and preventing incidences of child trafficking.
As well as campaigning, these children lead the way on the programme, creating events, identifying needs in the community and educating their peers.
Currently in India, 180 children are members of these 12 Child Parliaments. All the units have recently completed their elections and have been busy!
Child Parliamentarians held a debate on ‘Healthy Communication Between Children and Parents’, promoting healthy communication within families. The parents’ response to this was very encouraging and they requested that we conduct such similar debating events among the parents as well.
85 members also debated on the theme of ‘Sanitation’ in each of their respective Learning Centres. The teachers evaluated the performances and shared a list of winners to the project office staff.
10 Child Parliamentarians from Bind Toli areas were invited by the local VIVA Network to participate in a ‘Child Recognition Programme’. As part of this initiative, children from the poorest backgrounds, who exhibit talents and excellence in their studies, get an opportunity to show their talents and be recognised by an external agency. Being invited to this made the selected children feel very proud, and they were encouraged to strive for even better achievements. Some of our children were also given some prizes, gifts and certificates.
One of the major events recently was a training course on the ‘Police System in Bihar State’ for 80 children from the Child Parliaments. The aim of the training was to help them understand the various ranks and responsibilities within the police system. It focused on how the Bihar State police aim to ensure child protection, but the children shared that the prominent feeling they carry about the police force is ‘fear’.
They explained that they have, up to now, heard only negative things about the police and have developed a picture in their minds of police officers as cruel; working in a corrupt police system.
The training helped them to understand the actual responsibilities of the police personnel and the support they could receive from the local police stations if their safety or child rights are under threat.
As a follow up to the training; the children requested that we arrange some opportunities for them to interact with personnel at the local police stations. They hope this will begin to dispel some of their fears, develop more positive perceptions and build relationships with the police so they can work together.
So, in the coming months we are planning to either invite a police officer to interact with the children at the centres, or arrange a visit to a local police station.
CHILD RIGHTS & PARTICIPATION
As a child rights organisation, we envision a world in which every child thrives, regardless of their geography, ethnicity, gender or caste.
Our work is guided by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); which lays out the universal rights of children in 54 Articles, describing what a child needs to survive, grow, thrive and reach their potential.
They are all as important as each other, but four Articles (2,3, 6 & 12) are given the special status of ‘guiding principles’, and are needed for any of the rights in the Convention to be realised.
One of these four principles is ‘Participation’ and we work hard to ensure that this guides our work around the world. We want to ensure that children's voices are listened to; giving them space to have their voices heard on decisions that affect them.
We resource children to express themselves and have a voice, enabling them to take ownership in creative ways. We also take steps to ensure they can claim rights for themselves.