Bhubaneswar, 24/6 ( Odisha Samachar/Abhisek Mohanty) : Internationally acclaimed organisation, Save the Children has organised a ‘Lessons learnt workshop on Child Participation for Realisation of Child Rights on Tuesday here in city. During the workshop, children from different districts of Odisha shared their experience, views and challenges they experienced during their attempt to ensure child participation in child rights and involvement of children in decision making process with a wider audience.
“Participation of children should be ensured in decision making process that affect their own lives as well as to their communities and wider aspects of child’s life at home, in school, in health care, in play and leisure, in media, in courts, in local communities and in local, national and international policy making process”, underlined Sasanka Kumar Padhi, Odisha State Program Manager, Save the Children mentioned in his address.
It is to be noted that under its Child Participation programme, Save the Children has facilitated the process of formation of children collectives at district, block, panchayat and village level. Furthermore, it has supported formation of Children Alliance at state and National level. Overall objective of this is to improve children access to their basic rights in quality education, protection and survival by facilitating child–inclusive governance through child participation for realisation of their rights. Save the Children initiated ‘Child Alliance for Realization of Child Rights’ project in January 2011 to address the need to have a greater voice and more meaningful involvement in child development plans. The project intended as a concerted effort to promote inclusion of the children in the overall decision making process and substantiate the children’s stand on imbibing a sense of ownership to have their ‘Rights to Survival, Protection, Development and Participation’. The project aiming to create a platform child centric environment covered 118 village and 2 slums in 5 blocks of Odisha through formation of Children’s clubs and Children’s alliance. Children’s Alliance Members from a shared their experience on the process and impact of Child Participation Programme after release of Children’s Alliance newsletter ‘Aama Swara’, and screening of a video documentation on child participation programme as took place in four districts of Odisha; Nuapada, Baudh, Kalahandi and Puri. After experience sharing, the event proceeded to an open panel discussion where in dignitaries including OSCPCR Active Chairperson Dr Shruti Mohapatra, OSCPWD State Commissioner Kasturi Mohapatra, OSCPCR Member Rajendra Meher, Joint Secretary Gangadhar Sahoo, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist Laxminarayan Nanda and renowned journalist Sandeep Sahu, opined on child participation. Describing the ‘right to be heard’ as one of the most important right of a child, Mid Day Meal Joint Secretary Gangadhar Sahoo said, “We elders always keep on ignoring a child’s voice”. He informed about the government announcement for renewal of School Management committees (SMCs). “Making the right of children legalized, the Government has announced renewal according to which, the SMCs will include two child representatives from student groups. “Students should raise their voices, thoughts and grievances, he informed. He asked children alliance members to share their learning with other Children.” Underlining how the project has achieved its objectives to ‘Capacity building and participation of children’, Rajendra Meher suggested to empanel State Children alliance with children on regular basis to represent children’s point of view in decision making process . Senior journalist Sandeep Sahu applauded children alliance members that they are creating awareness on child rights which is basically a duty of elders; say parents, teachers and Government Officials where as L N Nanda stressed on the “need to keep close watch that child participation should not transfer an adult’s responsibility on children.” Lauding initiatives of children to approach the government bodies, Kasturi Mohapatra stressed on the right of differently able children. About Save the Children: Save the Children is a leading child rights organization. It has operational presence in more than 120 countries including India that works to ensure that every child has the right to survival, development, protection, and participation. In Odisha, it works to achieve immediate and lasting positive change in the lives of children in 12 districts.