Children along with select local adults participating in “children’s consultation” organized in Koraput district in Orissa. These children also the child reporters have been trained by the district administration, civil society and UNICEF
By Ch. Santakar
KORAPUT, Orissa, 5 February 2011 – Twelve-year-old Rohit continued to play while rest of his friends picked up their pens and settled to write in a corner of room, to sum up the day of playful group activities.
Thirty children from 14 blocks of tribal dominated Koraput district, including the remote conflict zones of Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon, were sharing their thoughts about “child rights” and what these rights meant to them.
The children along with select local adults were participating in a four-day “children’s consultation” organized in Koraput from 20-23 January 2011. These children also the child reporters have been trained under a joint initiative by the district administration, the local civil society and UNICEF.
The objective of the consultation organised with UNICEF support was to give young people a space to reflect and share their experiences and allow adults to document and learn from the child participation process.
Every child reporter had a different story to share. Be it the story of a young girl who had to take care of home and young ones after the school hours or the stories of marginalisation of poor and excluded. The children were forthright and eloquent in voicing their issues.
“It is wonderful to be given a chance to speak out my heart so freely in front of so many adults, who gave so much importance to what I say”, quipped the little child reporter Blessi.
Many games and innovative tools were used for maximize the participation of children.
Anju, a trainer from Media Matters, the team that facilitated the consultation, pointed out the tools and games benefited children as much as the adults who needed to understand the expectations of the children before palling any meaningful activity for children.
“Be it the game of finding the ‘most suitable things’ for use of children or selecting priorities from a list of services ‘most essential’ for their integral growth, the children were far ahead in expression over their adult counterparts,” said Anju.
While the process gave confidence to children like Sibani and Soumya to become facilitators and bring out the best from their friends, it also gave an opportunity to children and adults alike in realizing the importance of the child participation process.
It also helped them to identify more child facilitators who can use the games and tools in building the skill and confidence of each child to express freely.
At the end of the camp, the participants were thrilled that they got a chance to share, learn and express and the time spend at camp had broadened their horizons.
The learnings of these first generation learners were appreciated by the parents, teachers and community members. While parents considered child participation process as a way of their children’s engagement in betterment of society, teachers viewed it as an instrument to engage the interest of children and make them more responsive
The community members regarded it as the need of the hour to expand the horizon of development by including the voice of children.
“The children’s consultation in Koraput has been a real learning process for us and will be a foundation for holding more such programmes in other parts of the country in near future”, said Prabir Bose, head of Media Matters.