The Right to Education Act (especially article 17, dealing with corporal punishment), child labour, discrimination against HIV-infected students, restriction on the number of gas cylinders in hostels and lack of inclusion of physically challenged students in regular schools are likely to be topics that will rock the Vidhana Soudha as over 100 students from across the state put their heads together to form 20 questions that will be asked to the chief minister Jagadish Shettar at the second edition of the Children’s Parliament that will be held on Monday.
The Children’s Parliament is an initiative by the Karnataka Legislators’ Forum for Child Rights and the Karnataka Child Rights Observatory (KCRO) to sensitise children and legislators to problems that affect children. The organisers of the Children’s Parliament believe problems concerning children are as important as any other issue discussed in the Parliament. However, very few legislators raise questions pertaining to problems faced by children during assembly sessions. The Children’s Parliament is an effort to bridge this gap.
According to Nagasimha G Rao, director, Child Rights Trust (CRT) and campaign coordinator for KCRO, the Children’s Parliament will help sensitise children to their rights and emerge as leaders. “Children who attended last year’s Children’s Parliament are resource persons this year. Last year’s participants were able to explain their experience during the orientation programmes at the district level and at workshops,” he said.
A change in behaviour and attitude was noticed in children who attended last year’s session. “They became leaders who care for others who can’t raise their voice,” Rao said, describing an incident where a child wanted to know whether working in a temple as a priest is child labour. “It is heartening to see children being so responsible and looking out for others who can’t raise their voice. This is what our democracy needs today,” he said. Perhaps our legislators can take a lesson from the Children’s Parliament.
Participants at Children’s Parliament include school going children from various backgrounds, including child labourers.