MANORATH - We Voice Rights for All Children

About CRY

For over 30 years now, CRY – Child Rights and You has worked on the reasons why children are deprived of rights. Every year, CRY together with 200 partner NGOs across 18 states works to address the root causes of exploitation, deprivation and inadequate livelihood options that constrain the rights of children. This collective action permanently changes the lives of over 6 lakh children in 6700 villages and slums each year, who live learn and grow well. None of these micro-miracles would have been possible without public support – every year, 2 lakh individuals, come together from all walks of life to stand up for their belief in the rights of children.

CRY’s mission is to enable people to take responsibility for the situation of the deprived Indian child. We motivate people to confront the situation through collective action thereby giving children and themselves an opportunity to realize their full potential.

Manorath is one such Volunteers group with CRY which through its endeavors is voicing Rights for all children.

Manorath is a group of volunteers with Child Rights & You (CRY). Manorath members see themselves as campaigners for change. Our first campaign focuses on the right to educationfor all children in the NCR region. Manorath sees it growing as a movement to ensure every child the right to childhood.

RTE Campaign Mission:~To ensure that every child in India gets free compulsory n& quality education.
~To ensure state responsibility and accountability to provide free, compulsory, equitable and quality education to all children through public system of education.

RTE Campaign Objectives:~Create public opinion of RTE
~Mobilise the citizens of India to stand up for RTE
~Demand that state implements a common school system
~Ensure that educational institutes are equipped with holistic development of every child.

RTE Action Plan:~Capacity building as a collective : Enabling ourselves to lectures, discussions, readings and focused group discussion and forming study group on child rights
~Conducting research survey audits and document findings to enhance knowledge on RTE.
~Filing of Public interest litigation (PILs) and Right to education (RTIs) as and when required.
~Participating and organizing rallies, protests demand charters, workshops, seminars and conferences on RTE

To Join Manorath
Email : OR
Call Amit Aggarwal +91-9717277599

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Chance To Voice Child Rights

As you might have read in papers, a private school association in Rajasthan has filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Right To Education Act. Interestingly they have called it unconstitutional as the Act requires those schools to reserve 25% of their seats for children from poor economic background.

Read more about this in the following news links:

Manorath sent a letter to the HRD Ministry asking Mr. Sibal to not to succumb to this pressure from the private school lobby. We have decided to file an Intervention Application in the Supreme Court. We also initiated an online petition. The link to the petition is here.
If you support this cause, make yourself heard.
Your signature will also support the Intervention Application we are going to file.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Budget for Children: Some Food For Thought

By Tulika Sheel

Any budget analysis becomes pertinent only when it is set in the context of the situation of the group of persons it is meant for. What then is the situation of the children in India that needs to be addressed with “available resources”? More importantly, are the resources being allocated and spent “adequate”? Clearly not, if despite all its strides in the global market and its advances in GDP rankings, the current situation of the children in this country continues to be reflecting the following (data based on union government report):
India is home to the highest number of child laborers in the world
Out of every 100 children, 19 continue to be out of school: Of 81 who enroll, almost 53 % drop out before reaching Class VIII (Elementary level). Of every 100 children who are enrolled 70 drop out by the time they reach secondary level. Despite the promise of education for all, and non-discrimination being recognized as the basis of human rights, of every 100 children who drop out of school, 66 are girls; 46% children from scheduled tribes and 38 % from scheduled castes continue to be out of school as against 34% in the case of others. Children affected or infected by HIV/AIDS continue to be denied access to schools.

Although, the share of child education is the highest amongst all other sectors, the Union Government funding for education has for the last few decades constituted only 10% to 15% of the total public expenditure on education. India remains “at risk of not achieving the millennium development goal of universalization of education by 2015” and has already failed to achieve the goals it had set for itself in the Tenth Five Year Plan of - All children in school by 2003; all children to complete 5 years of schooling by 2007; investment of US$ 1223 million - 1333 million (Rs. 55-60 thousand crore) over 5 years.

One in every 10 children is born with, or acquires some physical, sensory or mental impairment by the first year of life. Based on this estimate the world population of disabled children is placed around 140 million, of which 25 million are in India. According to the Census Report, amongst all persons living with disability, 35.9% (46,38,26,702) are children and young adults in the 0-19 age group. Three out of five children in the age group of 0-9 years have been reported to be visually impaired. Movement disability has the highest proportion (33.2%) in the age group of 10-19. This is largely true of ‘mental’ disability also. However, they continue to be deprived access to education and other opportunities as adequate measures for “inclusion” do not exist.

What is a matter of even greater concern is that under-spending the financial resources provided for children is a recurrent feature. The actual expenditure in all the years has been less than the allocations. Clearly, even the small budget share for children remains unspent. Across the four sectors within budget, under-utilization of resources stands at an average of 1.57% during the period of study for which figures are available. What may appear to be a small amount when taken as a percentage, actually comes to millions of rupees in absolute terms. Moreover, within the budget certain sectors have always shown under-spending, these being health and protection. This under-utilization of funds – a recurrent feature that prevents the benefits of financial allocation from reaching children – is a serious matter that often gets glossed over.

This string of facts and figures boils down to one conclusion. The current state of children is not just because of a lack of funds but a lack of focussed planning. The government is answerable to people who voted and also the people who didn't, the mass of population aged under 18. Can we not speak on their behalf and seek serious welfare measures for children?

Workshop Diaries

We have concluded the first phase of our school workshops. We have covered a good range of MCD schools. The two stories shared here are also two first experiences. The first post by Shubham is on the first ever workshop of Manorath. The second post by Gehena is her first workshop.

By Garima Shukla and Shubham Kalyan Aggarwal

Our first school workshop was conducted on 25th July No. 1 MCD school, Dakshinpuri . It was nice to see months of meetings and hard work finally bearing fruit :). There were indeed a few glitches, but if there is so much learning and fun such hurdles can be easily overcome. Let me take you through the day's events :

The workshop began at 11:00 am when an anxious Manorath team was greeted by an equally anxious student body of the school.

Once the children were seated [with a lot of help from the teachers :)], the skit began. Sakshi, the Madari, enthralled the bunch of young girls with her acts while Habiba amused everyone as the lost Jamura.

Bulbul, Shweta, Harpreet, Ankur and many others later joined in to play their respective characters. The children were in awe, everyone standing, craning their necks, trying to get a glimpse of the show.

The girls from classes 4 and 5 were however seated on the 1st floor, and were kept busy by Smita, Bhavay and myself. They sang and talked about their future.

And just to make sure that amidst all the fun we dont lose track of the real idea, it was important that the children be made aware of their rights and hence the CRY anthem followed the skit.

Then started the painting competition. The children were seated in circles and given colors and a plain white sheet, and they were told to put down there imagination on those sheets, and it was awe inspiring to see the creativity that was unleashed in the school hall. The once blank sheets now had houses, trees, kites, little children, tables, clouds, rivers, mountains, flowers, fruits, even rakhees of different colors. We had a tough time choosing winners.

Once the competition was over to hold those little angels back in the room was another challenge.In a room full of more than 300 ppl and fans not working and monsoon not helping us in any way!!

The workshop ended just on time, by 12:30, parents had lined up to take their children back home, and we couldnt hold them back any further :).

Our work though was far from over, because then came the real deal. We had a one to one discussion with the teachers, which was an eye-opener, helped us assess our campaign and we were able to document important results.

Prize distribution was done the following saturday.

By Gehena Chauhan

The day began with haggling over ten rupees with an auto walla in NewFriends Colony market. I ended up misplacing my phone in the sameauto. (Should have given him that tenner !!) We proceeded to theTaimoor School in a rickety rickshaw which was on the verge of collapsing due to two very “healthy” Indian girls.Amongst the backdrop of humming noises emitting from the variousclassrooms, the survey sheets, pens and crayons were quicklydistributed amongst all twelve of us Manorath volunteers. We were amix of both experienced volunteers and amateurs, including some likeme who had recently joined and had no clue of what to expect from ourfirst workshop.Nervous and confused with trickles of sweat on my brow, I enteredThird B. Excited eyes peeped out at us as we gave them instructions.To be honest the other more confident, experienced volunteer did that while I merely nodded, smiled and after distributing crayons noddedand smiled a bit more, trying to look important.Soon enough I was assigned a section of my own to interact with - Third A. Asking the girls to draw anything that came to their mind, I watched with envy as they filled their blank sheets with brown mountains, yellow smiling suns , huts, matchstick figures, bluerivers, Indian flags, traffic lights, grapes and mangoes. Being an ardent mango lover, the latter caused my stomach to misbehave and makesome very aggressive audible noises. “Ma’am May I go to the bathroom?” I looked up from my survey sheets,and saw one tiny girl who was clutching her stomach. I clucked sympathetically and gave her my “ever so important” permission. Not even sixty seconds had passed when another voice pitched in “Ma’am mayI go to the bathroom ” I smiled and could see myself years back doing the very same thing. Needing a friend…everywhere. Like most other girls their age, these girls simply loved to talk. I took full advantage of this and tried needling them with questions about their teachers, parents and siblings.I was amused to see some girls trying to paint a rosy, picture -“the food is very nice, the teachers are very good with us”. Whereas others would instantaneously spill the beans and complain-“No, the food is not nice and I was hit by the teacher.”A gang of concerned girls stumped a volunteer ten years elder to them“Bhaiya what do you want to be when you grow up?”. Another was advised a career “Didi, you are very pretty. Please join Bollywood ”. Onevolunteer felt appreciated when he was declared the class’s favourite teacher only to realize that they were doing that to every volunteerthat day. Kids nowadays are either getting older too fast or maybe our generation is getting too slow.At the back of their drawing sheets, the children were asked to write their name, Father’s name and his occupation. This one girl told me that she did not know her father’s occupation. When asked why, shetold me that her father had expired and in a matter-of-fact manner added that even her partner had lost her father. On the other hand, I later found out how a girl in ‘fifth standard’ burst out in tears at the mention of her late father.This incident taught me that maturity is irrespective of age.When I had selected the three best drawings I went to the class anddistributed them. Each girl looked at me with hopeful eyes, expecting me to say her name. Since there were only three prizes, I had to givethe rest verbal consolation as to how each drawing was very specialand each of them were winners. One volunteer shared with me that a teacher had suggested to him that we should be distributing prizes to all the children.One face lingered in my memory long after the workshop. One girl asked me if she could write her mother’s name as she only knew her spelling. But she got stuck on her occupation. I asked her politely if she was a housewife. “No”, she replied, “My mother has been sick for many years. So what is her occupation?” Coincidentally she had come First. I tried to imagine the moment when this talented, soft spoken girl would have shown her prize to her mother. As for my prize, I didn’t get a pencil box or a certificate but what I got was a snapshot of smiling faces and lingering memories and I knewI wouldn’t have missed the Taimoor Nagar school visit for the world.The workshop wrapped up with a few of us going back to New Friends Colony trying to find my phone and then celebrating the lost phone atAl Bakes’ with shvarmas and mayonnaise .

This article was compiled taking help from the experiences shared by fellow volunteers-Archana, Harpreet, Ashutosh, Mridul, Gaurav, Gaurab, Tullika, Niyati, Subhash, Menakshi, AND Abhilasha.

I’d like to thank my best friend Anchal and her mother for their invaluable suggestions.