‘Not much done for child rights at village level’
Although the Goa Children's Act, 2003, has envisaged the welfare of children at village level, not much has happened over the years.
The Child Rights Committees (CRCs) exist, but as far as their functioning, they have hardly been effective with the exception of a few.
Under the Act, it is mandatory that every civic body, village panchayat and municipal council should have a CRC in place.
Nishta Desai, president of Children's Rights in Goa (CRG), speaking on the sidelines of Bal Sabha in Mapusa, said very few CRCs actually function though they exist on paper.
"We see compliance only on paper. The CRCs will start functioning only when members of the public consciously come forward and volunteer to become members of the CRC," said Desai.
She said the CRC in village panchayats of Siolim-Marna, Morjim, Assagao, Arambol and Salvador do Mundo have been active.
Samira Kazi, Goa state commission for protection of child rights (GSCPCR), maintained that many CRCs are not functioning as required, but there are some which are doing good work. She also pointed out many cases where new CRCs have not been formed after the election. The GSCPCR is a monitoring body for CRCs.
"We have been conducting sensitizing work by engaging NGOs. We have also met the director of panchayats asking him to issue a circular directing panchayat bodies form CRCs in places where they have not been formed," said Kazi.
The main task of the 11-member CRC is to redress various issues pertaining to children. It has to determine the number of children in the 0-18 age group in its jurisdiction, whether all have been immunized, number of dropouts, whether there is child labour, and whether Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is implemented-if all children in the area are schooling.
Speaking about the role of village gram sabhas in functioning of CRCs, Desai said "People should be motivated to be a part of the CRC during the gram sabha meeting."
Members of CRCs can be drawn from the panchayat body, teaching faculty, parent teachers associations (PTA) and representatives of student bodies.
The CRG has been conducting awareness programmes emphasizing the importance of CRCs in various parts of the state since 2005.
Snehal Salgaonkar, coordinator of CRC, said it has come to their notice that while adults may not be so keen on functioning of CRCs, children do want CRC.
The CRC's bal sabhas in Mapusa had 11 schools participating wherein there was a poster competition, moot CRC, drawing competition and other programmes to create awareness about CRC. [TOI]