National Policy for Children – NPC (1974) is now 37 yrs old. In the changing times and situation there is an urgent requirement to bring necessary as well as mandatory changes in the NPC. Govt. Of India has initiated a process on this and has requested civil society, various departments of the govt., nation and international bodies to respond to the process to make NPC relevant to the present situation as also to tackle future challenges. In the recent past there were several consultations among civil society groups and govt. Which reviewed the NPC and suggested changes in the light of CRC , WFC, MDG , Global and local trends , changes in the legal system , judgments, policies etc. Against this back ground, it is imperative that one listen to the voices or opinion of children too on NPC.
In various consultations with children – Children Parliaments, Child Rights Special Grama Sabhas, campaigns for RTE, rights of children with disabilities, equal opportunities to girl children and children belonging to minorities and SC and ST, etc., We have observed that given a chance with relevant and appropriate information children have tremendous potential to suggest on policy issues too. This is true across this state of India and children from urban, rural and tribal setup.
This consultation is part of the continued feedback to the Government to amend or rebuild the NPC, and also to include the concerns expressed by children. The process would involve not only taking the opinion of the children about what they foresee to be included in the new NPC to be built but also to respond to the draft revised NPC prepared by adults after a few consultations during 2010. The children’s consultation is planned in four divisions of Karnataka, wherein children in the age group of 12-18 were invited to work with facilitators for a period of two to three days.
The objectives of the consultations on NPC were:
- Creating opportunities for children from various background for contributing to NPC.
- Introducing NPC to different groups of children.
- Facilitating a process with children to respond to the present NPC and to the suggested changes to NPC.
- Taking the opinion of children to bring in changes or to re-construct NPC.
- Recommendations to Govt. Of India to bring changes to NPC with the inputs from children obtained through this process.
In order to respond to the need for having a series of consultation with children on NPC review and revision, we followed the following process.
- Developed NPC (1974 version and the version with suggestion from civil society groups for modification) into child friendly reading material(English to kannada).
- Prepared other communication tools and material for reading and conducting consultations :
- Picture cards for discussion (for eliciting responses).
- Simple statistical data pertaining to children on various development issues and portraying the situation of children in India through visual presentations that were easy for children to grasp.
- Stories for conducting dialogue (case studies)
- Puppet play / intimate theatre/ street play/ role play/ short film for simulations
- Other exercises like “past-present-future” (the elicit the time line and visioning)
- Preparing guide lines to find out and understand what children think about different rights, lacunae in the laws and policies about children, what they expect from different duty-bearers such as parents, other family members, neighbours, teachers, police, a casual acquaintance or strangers, other service providers, local government and goverments at state and national level.
- Required about a group of 3-4 writers and facilitators and an artist to work for about 10 days to develop material.
- Facilitators’ workshop-2 days (getting commitment to follow child protection policy and to facilitate the consultation with children)
- Consultations with children who represented from various backgrounds, ethnic groups, class, religion, division etc.
- Two days of consultation were conducted (residential) with children to take the process leisurely.
What we planned for Karnataka:
The consultations with children were conducted in 4 divisions of Karnataka. Civil society organization, campaign and groups who are spread across states who are members of KCRO and / or CACL motivated children (in the age group of 12-18) to take part in these consultations. Facilitators were drawn from network organizations. In each consultation about 30-50 children participated with at least 4 facilitators.