From the need to be included in committees at school, to improving infrastructure in their areas and seeking solutions to curb the rampant usage of drugs among peers, children from across the State came together to make sure their voices were heard and drafted a manifesto ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The exercise, facilitated by the Arunodhaya Centre for Street and Working Children, was inaugurated on Saturday. Experts spoke and oriented the children on the functioning of the Parliament and the election process, the status of child rights in Tamil Nadu, and about how they could identify various issues which they could take up for further discussion. M. Althaf, a young student from Ennore, said that he wanted to raise issues pertaining to rampant drug usage among school students. “We need the leaders to look at improving facilities in our area and in the schools,” he said. The participants in the two-day drafting of the manifesto included school and college students, children with special needs and rescued child bonded labourers.
Speaking about the importance of being included in school management committees, K.A. Savitha said that with increasing incidents of assault against children, they need to be given a proper platform to express their views on what could be improved. “Only if a conducive and safe environment is ensured for girls, especially, in schools, can we have more enrolments. These concerns need to be addressed by leaders — both at the local and national level,” she said. She added that steps should be taken to widen the scope of the laws against engaging children in bonded labour.
The children will take the drafted manifesto to candidates contesting in the elections from their respective districts.
“We are also encouraging them to prepare manifestos to identify local issues,” said Virgil D’Sami, executive director, Arunodhaya.