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Child Reporters Celebrate World Childrens’ Day.

Ranchi, Jharkhand | November | 20, 2019 :: Child reporters working with UNICEF organized a press conference to celebrate World Children’s Day and the 30th anniversary of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) at the Press Club, Ranchi on Wednesday. 30 child reporters from different government schools of Ranchi district led the conversation and spoke of their work across 150 government schools in 11 blocks of Ranchi and East Singhbhum districts.

Child Reporter Saniya Kumari, a student of the Government School in Tatisilve, Namkum, said,

“Under the child reporters progamme, we have organized 10 Bal Charcha programmes with elected representatives, Panchayati Raj representatives and government officials to discuss how to make villages and panchayats child marriage-free. Similarly, local media interactions were organized in five blocks: Kanke, Nagri, Itki, Namkum and Ormanjhi to discuss the problems children are facing in these areas. We requested them for their support towards creating awareness about child rights issues. Five YouTube interviews titled Adhikaron Ki Baat-Baal Patrakaron key Saath were conducted by child reporters with eminent persons such as Madhumita Kumari, Archer and Asia Cup silver medalist; Padmashri Mukund Nayak, Folk Singer; Jeetu Charan Ram, MLA, Kanke; Mr Utpal Dutt, Deputy Director, AIR and Mr Rajesh Tomar, Editor, TV18 Jharkhand. All these interviews have been uploaded on YouTube.”

Child reporters Jai Govind Bediya and Vikram Solanki, shared their experience of conducting these interviews, saying, “These activities have given us immense confidence and now we feel empowered to raise our voices at any platform. Initially, we were nervous about interviewing these famous people, but now we have overcome our hesitation and become fearless. We hope people will watch the interviews on YouTube and learn about child rights issues and the problems and challenges children face in their lives.”

The press conference also provided an opportunity for youth engaged with UNICEF’s Volunteer4ChildRights programme to share their experiences. Soumya Rani, a first-year B.A. student at Marwari College, said, “We all know that Jharkhand, at 38%, has the third-highest incidence of child marriage in India. It is our responsibility to work together to make the state child marriage-free. Before this programme, we knew little about the issue and did not fully understand the consequences of child marriage. Today, I am fully aware about child marriage and have committed to work for the issue with UNICEF.”

Another volunteer, Ananya from DAV School, Bariatu, said, “Through this programme, I became aware about the child rights which were ratified under the UNCRC in 1989. I have taken a pledge to work for these rights and will also share my knowledge with other children in my school and area, so that children can raise their voice, if they find their rights violated.”

Participants in UNICEF’s Art4ChildRights workshop organized with select private schools of Ranchi also spoke at the event.

Sumit Dutta from Kairali School said, “Through this workshop, we learned to use our artistic skills towards the cause of child rights. Children are still vulnerable in our society and are deprived of their rights. It is the need of the hour to raise voices from all sections of society. I would like to thank UNICEF for giving us the opportunity to express ourselves through art. I have also pledged to help make our society a better place for children to live and thrive.”

Prasanta Dash, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Jharkhand, announced winners’ names from the Volunteer4ChildRights campaign. These winners will be felicitated later this month during a special programme to appreciate their skills in article writing, art and poetry for child rights.

Dash stressed on the continuing importance of the CRC, 30 years after it was ratified.

“As childhoods continue to change, there is a pressing need to refresh the relevance and urgency around implementing the CRC for the 21st Century. There are more than 1.15 crore children (0-18 years) in Jharkhand as per Census 2011. More than 60 lakh children live in rural areas with limited opportunities for them to grow, develop and excel. Children must be protected, given opportunities to develop to reach their fullest potential as they are the future.”

With elections proposed in Jharkhand next month, the child reporters listed their demands for inclusion in the state’s political agenda.

Kusma Kumari, a student of the Government School in Pirra, Namkum, said, ”Can the minimum age of marriage be increased to 21 years for girls as well, to give them a chance to complete their higher education?”

Deepa Kumari, from the Government School in Tatisilve said, “Certification of age at marriage by the village Mukhiya and PRI representatives should be mandatory to prevent child marriages.”

Vikram Solanki, from the Government School in Dahu, Ormanjhi said, “Could the UNCRC be incorporated into the school syllabus so that every child is aware of their rights?”

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