CHILD RIGHTS COLLECTIVE, GUJARAT
The Child Rights Collective is a network of individuals and organisations, working with children to help them understand children’s rights, and how they should use these principles in day to day life. There are about 50 members of the network in the State.
In 2015-16, it worked on a major project in partnership with UNICEF. It was a Participatory Action Research project, in which some 100-plus children from different parts of the state participated and collected data on education and child protection using eight different tools.
In the first phase, the children and their adult chaperones were introduced to UNCRC and child rights in detail over a five-day workshop. It was explained to them how in the day-to-day context, these rights were reflected, e.g. that “name-calling” is a violation of the right to protection of a child from verbal violence. The eight tools were explained at the workshop and how to use them in their urban neighbourhoods or villages.
After field work of about six months, the same group gathered again to understand how to interpret, transfer and tabulate the data at the second workshop in May 2016. This workshop gave meaning to the heap of data the children had collected and they came to know what the numbers could mean and how to use them.
In the third and final workshop, the nine groups of children worked on the major task of tabulating the data. They presented their work experience and flagged-up the major issues. The adults/experts helped them with the presentation. The workshop provided an opportunity for these children to present their arguments to other guest VOs, UNICEF and government officials. The guests included a member of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and the Chairperson of the SCPCR. Short and long term action plans were drawn up based on the findings to improve the conditions in both sectors: education and protection. A group of adult researchers lead by a senior researcher is currently working on collating, entering, analysing the data and writing a report. In total, 183 child researchers (76 boys and 107 girls) supported by 61 Baldosts (Friends of Children) from nine children’s collectives, from seven districts across the state, collected data from 9,594 children and 3,667 adults from 78 villages/communities.
A senior social scientist, Professor Leela Visari, is working on a “Status of Children” report, which is expected to be released by the end of this year.
It has been a great experience and experiment working with children on a participatory action research project!
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