The objective of Children’s Parliament is to build a child-safety net at government schools

The street lights of an SC colony in a village of Pamaru mandal in Krishna district went off and did not work for several weeks. It took the intervention of a group of young and active children to get the lights working again.

The children made a representation in writing to the village sarpanch, who ensured that the lights were repaired at once. They were members of Children’s Parliament, constituted by the children and for the children.

The objective of Children’s Parliament is building a child-safety net at government schools in Krishna district. Started as a pilot project in Penamaluru and Ibrahimpatnam mandals by Forum for Child Rights, a consortium of NGOs involved in child development projects, the model has been replicated by the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation and government departments such as police and railway police wings in as many as 14 mandals in Krishna district.

Thiruvuru, Gampalagudem, A. Konduru, Mylavaram, Nuzvid, Kankipadu, Pamaru, Machilipatnam, Mandavalli, Kaikaluru, Kruthivenu, Koduru and Nagayalanka are mandals where these ‘Members of Parliament’ identify, discuss and resolve various issues.

“We are happy with the pace at which the message of child rights is spreading far and wide. The objective is to create an environment conducive for the protection of child rights,” says Joseph Donald, programme manager, Children’s Parliament.

Solving problems

The ‘empowered’ members of Children’s Parliament have successfully handled matters such as effective monitoring of nutritious food supply in Anganwadis, besides solving drinking water issues and implementing the Right to Information Act.

“Since children alone can’t handle everything, we constituted Adult Activist Groups and Child Protection Committees to strengthen their hands,” says Mr. Donald.

Each parliament brings together children from a cluster of 30 families to share their problems and protect one another. It maintains that children are responsible for each other’s well being, and that they should gain confidence and competence in handling difficult situations. “Besides promoting camaraderie, it also enables them to explore their inner strength when they find themselves locking horns with issues plaguing the development of children. This introduces children to a world of ideas, creating opportunities for reflection and critical thinking,” says Thomas Koshy, former director of Navajeevan Bala Bhavan and the brain behind the innovative move.

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