The document will be presented to candidates of all major political parties
It is an eight-page document with a list of demands. The document talks about the principal demands, demands in education sector, child labour abolition, child trafficking, girl child betterment, welfare of children of migrant labourers, environment protection, social issues, nutrition, health and hygiene and family welfare.
The document, titled ‘Children’s Election Demands’, has come from children from villages in Coimbatore, Tirupur and The Nilgiris Parliamentary constituencies. “It was a long drawn-out process. The students from villages first prepared the draft. This draft was discussed at the regional level, then block level and finally at the federation level,” says L. Roselin, a Plus Two student and a child rights activist.
At all the levels only students were involved, adds M. Sathiyamoorthi, also an activist and Plus Two student.
Encouraged by the Centre for Social Education and Development and Forum for Promotion of Child Participation, more than 1,000 children prepared the document to be presented to candidates of all major political parties in the three constituencies, says C. Nambi, Director of the Centre.
The students’ principal demands – all those below 18 years of age be declared children and all legislations be amended suitably, particularly the Right to Education Act, so that all children are guaranteed education; no change in the age in the Juvenile Justice Act under any circumstances.
Their other demands include better facilities in schools, appointment of conservancy workers in all schools, change in child labour Act to accommodate those in the 14 to 18 age group as well, stringent measures against those who employ child workers, a register for migrant labourers at the district and block level, tougher environment laws and much more.
R. Karthick, another child rights activist, says that in the 2011 Assembly election the children prepared a list of demands and submitted the same to the contestants but failed to take follow-up action by interacting with the MLAs. This time though, they were keen on interacting with the MPs to-be to ensure that their demands were met.
At the panchayat and block level they interacted with the councillors, had their demands met and also conducted exclusive only-children gram sabha meetings, says K. Sridevi, also a child rights activist.
Communist Party of India nominee P.R. Natarajan, to whom the students first presented the demands, could not be reached for his comments.