Mr. Rebates

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Millions of children go without basic care: HAQ report

The report ‘Status of Children in India 2008’ claims that a vast group of children living in difficult circumstances do not receive even a basic education.

Thirty-two million children in India under the age of six do not have access to basic education and healthcare, says a recent report released by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.   

“The worst affected children in this age-group are those who belong to marginalised sections of society,” says Enakshi Ganguly, co-director of the child rights group.   

The report, ‘Status of Children in India 2008’, reveals that a vast group of children living in difficult circumstances such as children of long-term patients, women prisoners and sex workers, children with special needs, riot-, militancy- and disaster-affected children, refugee and displaced children, and children in orphanages and homes do not receive early childhood education.  

Only 13% of children from other backward classes (OBC), eligible to be covered by the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), are reported to be benefiting from it, the report adds. This figure is lower for scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) children -- 10% each.  

India has 164 million children in this age-group, of whom 60 million are in the three to six age-group. Only 34 million children in this age-group are covered by pre-schooling schemes, either the ICDS or private initiatives. Nearly 26 million children have not received any form of intervention.   

Children who are not covered are from both rural and urban areas; most belong to vulnerable and marginalised socio-economic groups.   

In rural areas, the report says, children are located in isolated and remote villages, scheduled caste/tribe habitations, settlements of seasonal migrant roadside workers, construction and quarry workers, or in fishing hamlets. In urban areas, they are the children of construction workers, temporary/seasonal workers, rural migrants, etc, living on pavements, in unauthorised settlements or, at best, in small slums.  

Ganguly explains: “Without a major policy shake-up and more efficient implementation of nutrition programmes, India is unlikely to reach the related millennium development goals by 2015.” Two of the eight goals set by the United Nations in 2000 relate to children -- achieving universal primary education and reducing child mortality. The deadline is 2015.  

“Instead of boning up on implementation and universal coverage of the ICDS, policymakers are currently engaged in a frivolous debate over serving biscuits to little children as midday meals, neglecting the nutrition aspect of hot cooked food,” Ganguly says.   

Source: InfoChange

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