Out of textbooks and into daily lives

Getting to know one another: Members of civic clubs present flowers and cards to pourakarmikas.

Getting to know one another: Members of civic clubs present flowers and cards to pourakarmikas.  

Bangalore-based Public Affairs Centre and Swabhimana spearheaded a pioneering initiative called ‘Children's Movement for Civic Awareness' (CMCA) in 2000, to nurture active citizenship among children. It was their way of ensuring a vibrant and participatory democracy of the future.

From a cycle rally in the city when thousands of children spread the message of a ‘clean, green and safe Bangalore' to 285 civic clubs across five cities, the CMCA is today an organisation of trained and dedicated volunteers, committed schools and motivated members, backed by a well-designed programme.

What works

The CMCA believes that children can be the epicentres of change and can influence those around them. It works on the premise that an understanding of democracy and people's rights will embolden citizens to secure them. So they strive to empower children with a deeper knowledge of Rights to Education, to safe drinking water, to health and so on.

As part of their events, the CMCA celebrates Pourakarmika Day in September each year, to acknowledge the work of the civic sweepers.

A start

On the occasion, students interact with pourakarmikas to understand the nature of their work and the related problems. After the interaction, some of the students said, “Our attitude towards pourakarmikas has changed and we do not treat them as we used to do.”

Special effort

The members of civic clubs from different schools start off the day by going around the city meeting the pourakarmikas and giving them flowers, sweets and thank-you cards made by them.

Priya Krishnamurthy, an associate national coordinator said, “I want people to start thinking in this direction and show some concern towards pourakarmikas and their efforts.”

Other events

CMCA also celebrates other events such as ‘The Traffic Police Day'. Last year, it was celebrated on January 17 where students went about acknowledging and thanking the policemen for their services and handing out cards and flowers.

They also launched ‘Inspiration' a CMCA programme where 1,400 students of civic clubs from 37 different schools went out on the streets holding placards to spread awareness about ‘Right to Education' as a fundamental right, and against child labour.

Sukrita K.

CMCA: where students get up close and personal with fundamental rights

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