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Children present their wishlist to political parties

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OST Bureau

Bhubaneswar, Jan 19:

More than 50 children from 10 districts representing around 700 villages in the state joined hands to raise the issues and concerns of children before the policy makers.

In view of the growing child rights violation cases in the state and the country, the child leaders shared their demands with political parties in the shape of a ‘Children’s Manifesto’ during an interface program organized by Save the Children and its NGO partners with support from European Union and UKAID at Bhubaneswar on Saturday.

Children demanded the inclusion of their rights relating to education, health and nutrition, protection, participation and in the event of disaster in accordance with the UN Convention on Rights of the Children (UN CRC) in the manifesto of all political parties.

Senior political leaders, MLAs, MPs from various mainstream parties joined the interface with around 50 child leaders.

Sasanka Kumar Padhi, Odisha State Program Manager, Save the Children said, “This is a conscious attempt to appeal to political parties to include the child rights related issues in their agenda to protect and promote child rights in the state. Although there are institutional mechanisms to address the issues, but mass awareness and high degree of accountability is required, where the political parties play a vital role,”.

‘Children’s Manifesto’ has a whole array of demands ranging from increasing the budget for elementary education to 6 percent of GDP,  to proper and timely implementation of grievance redressal mechanisms specially at block and district level, strengthening of the OSCPCR, filling up the vacant teachers posts in Primary, UP and High Schools, effective implementation of Right to Education Act, strategy  for out of school and hard to reach children, complete ban on any form of child labour, children’s participation in School Management Committees, strict legislation on child abuse and sexual harassment and rehabilitation home for HIV infected kids.

Rajya Sabha MP Baishnab Charan Parida, Rajendra Chhatria, MLA, Narayan Reddy, Ex-MLA CPI, Bhrugubaxi Patra and Ashok Mishra, BJP, Suresh Panigrahi, CPI (M), Mahendra Parida, CPI (ML), Nisikanta Mohapatra, AAP deliberated on the children’s demands and promised to discuss the same in their respective party meetings to add those demands in their respective manifestos with proper attention.

Political parties should address such issues to offer a just and protected childhood for the children. As the election manifesto is an important one for all parties, we found it would be good if they openly promise during election campaign and thereafter in assembly and in the parliament’ said Siba Rao, Convenor, National Level Children’s Alliance.

Among others, Laxminarayan Nanda of the UNICEF, educationist and well-known writer Das Benhur,  senior journalist Jatindra Dash, member OSPCR Rajendra Meher and Anil Pradhan of the Odisha RtE Forum  helped the children in drafting the ‘manifesto’ before presenting it to the political party leaders.