Kolkata, March 28 (IANS) They are not entitled to vote yet, but should that be an obstacle in voicing their concerns to the people who matter? In poll-bound West Bengal, children are now seeking an interface with politicians to convey their problems and their aspirations.
“The nearest school from where I live is at least 3 km away and we have to walk there daily. The roads are not good, public conveyance is scant and too many trucks play on the road which is makes it difficult for children like us to walk,” says 13-year-old Sony Khatoon who lives near Kolkata’s port area.
While little Sony even managed to get hold of state minister and Trinamool Congress candidate Firhad Hakim during his campaign and related the issues plaguing the area, there are many like her across the state who face problems of their own but don’t have an opportunity to voice them.
With the help of child rights organisation Save the Children India, children from the marginal sections of the society are now attempting to make the politicians listen to them directly about their issues, like vulnerability to trafficking, school dropout, lack of ICDS centre, child marriage etc.
Besides writing to the political parties, the children would also host programmes on radio channels in their bid to have a say in policy matters concerning them.
“The idea is create an interface where children can put forth their views, their problems and their aspirations. It is to get the perspective of the children to policy matters concerning child rights,” said Chittapriyo Sadhu, state programme manager of Save the Children India.
“Political parties in their manifestos have mentioned about child rights only in a broad sense. Even during campaigns, the leaders don’t interact with children. So we are making this endeavour to create a space for children to appeal for due attention and action on their issues.”
Having migrated with her family from Odisha, 14-year-old Suru Bera is desperate to study but is unable to, due to lack of schools in her area.
“There are many children like me who want to study, only we had a Hindi medium school or a teacher who could understand Hindi,” says Bera, who lives at a brick kiln in South 24 Parganas district.
Lamenting the lack of ICDS centres and the growing number of school dropouts in her area, Reshmi Khatoon from Raipur in South 24 Parganas has a message for voters: “Please vote for that party or leaders who will fight for child rights.”