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Charter seeks free education for all children

The Hindu, Tuesday 21 November 2000, 12:00 AM

HYDERABAD, NOV. 20. A unique "Education Campaign" that brought together sarpanches, women's self-help groups, network of Non-Government Organisations and individuals for child rights from various districts here on Monday adopted a charter, demanding among other things, free and quality education for all children.

Described as "Hyderabad declaration on child rights" and read out by Mr. K. Nimmaiah, convener of Campaign Against Child Labour, the meeting demanded adoption of the 83rd Constitutional Amendment Bill on free education to children in Parliament, after incorporating changes suggested by the child rights activists.

An important modification suggested was to include all children up to 18 years for provision of free education instead of confining it to six - 14 years age group. The campaign was organised by the Andhra Pradesh Alliance for Child Rights.

Another child rights activist, Mr. Ch. Murali Mohan, wanted that the Bill be adopted in the current winter session of Parliament and said a representation in this regard had been sent to the Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr. G.M.C. Balayogi, and members of Parliament. He also appealed to the Labour Minister, Mr. C. Krishna Yadav, who attended the meeting, to take up the issue. The Primary Education Minister, Mr. K. Srihari, did not attend. All those who attended the campaign, including Mr. Yadav, signed on a banner that listed the demands.

The other demands listed out in the charter said: Educating every child is the responsibility of the Government, allocation of ten per cent of the GDP to education and half of it towards primary education, recognising all under 18 years as children for extending free education upto tenth class, quality education for all, making the private schools allot 35 per cent to 50 per cent of seats in their areas to poor children for free education and special steps for education of girl children.

The Labour Minister said the Government was committed to realising the goal of education for all children by the year 2005, including elimination of child labour. He was interrupted for a while by a section of audience which raised slogans of "Ban child labour." Responding, he said, unless people come forward with a helping hand, the Government or NGOs alone cannot achieve this arduous task. They too should take responsibility of ensuring that every child was sent to the school.

Mr. William B. Thompson, State Representative of UNICEF, said the role of the international organisation was to enable children to exercise their right to get quality education. It worked with Governments and NGOs in providing easy access to schools and equal educational opportunities for girls. Ms. Sudha Murali, also of UNICEF, spoke. Ms. T. M. Usha Rani of Shramik Vidyapeeth, Mr. Mahender and Mr. Prakash of CRY, attended.