Addressing food security issue among urban poor and strengthening pre-school facilities were among the recommendations made in the report on Child Survey, which indicated that more than 50 per cent of children do not have access to three square meals a day. A report on the survey, conducted by Hope Foundation and CRY (Child Right and You), was presented to Chief Minister N Rangasamy on Monday.
One other recommendation by the committee was that all legislation related to children should define the age of children as below 18 years, since the Union Cabinet has cleared the new National Policy for Children on 18 April 2013, which lays down a universal definition of the child as less than 18 years.
A comprehensive legislation to prohibit the engagement of children up to 18 years of age in any form of employment in any place of work during any time of the day should be enacted, suggested P Joseph Victor Raj of HOPE.
The survey revealed that more than 45 per cent of children in slums are out of schools. Some of them have dropped out as early as 8, 10, 12 and 14 years of age. Nearly 30 per cent of the children have become child labourers. Although child rights activists have been stressing that the Child Labour Prohibition & Regulation) Act (CLPRA) enacted in the country in the year 1986 is a toothless Act, government has been dormant in this issue.
Further recommendations include that the State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) should be formed immediately in Puducherry. The chairperson and members need to be persons of eminence, who have done outstanding work for promoting the welfare of children and should be selected in a transparent manner by a selection committee of eminent persons. Rules for Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) should be notified and enforced immediately.
Formation of Corporal Punishment Monitoring Cells (CPMCs) by schools. Besides hearing grievances related to corporal punishment, child sexual abuse and mental harassment, CPMCs will forward recommendations to district level authorities within 48 hours of the occurrence. These recommendations were based on the findings, which revealed that more than 10% children in Puducherry and Karaikal and more than 30% in slums have experienced physical violence and corporal punishment in schools.
Employment Guarantee Scheme for Urban Areas should be planned and executed immediately. Territorial Administration can also plan its own urban employment guarantee scheme as done by West Bengal.
The Territorial Administration should release a white paper on the utilisation of the Central funds of 6.66 lakh, 50 lakh and 150 lakh for 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively under Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY).
While enforcing the Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, the children should also be included in the school management committee, so that the children’s voice is also heard while deciding on the matters concerning them. Awareness on child line number should be created in the interior villages and slums areas.