Guwahati: An initiative has been launched here to provide the city’s estimated 5,534 street children basic education under the Right to Education Act. The project “Child Friendly Guwahati”, conceived by the Don Bosco Society, aims to network with various groups and volunteers in bringing education to the street children who otherwise end up as labourers or are involved in petty crimes.
“The campaign is targeting children who are engaged in rag-picking, begging, baby-sitting, addicted to substance abuse or employed as child labourers,” Fr V M Thomas of Don Bosco Institute said.
Child Friendly Guwahati (CFG) was also emphasising on framing compulsory rules to send children to schools, Fr Thomas said. The CFG campaign commenced in July, last year with five pilot centres, but it was formally launched this month to cover more children from the poor and disadvantaged sections of society by setting up more centres. A key area of the project is to provide parents of the children with knowledge about the importance of sending their wards to schools. “We are aiming to evolve an integrated programme for street-involved children which aims at providing full and wholesome development to them,” he said.
The project laid emphasis on community-based intervention to support vulnerable children before they end up on the street, Thomas said.
There was also an urgent need to strengthen migrant families through social and financially-inclusive programmes to sustain them economically, Thomas said. “This could imply providing providing income generation programmes routed through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and marketing facilities channelised through the Labour Department of the state government,” he said.
Fr Thomas pointed out that both the central and state government should focus more on child and social development and try to work on preventive measures rather that promotion measures. “There is need for a Child Welfare Forum to review the existing legislations on children and initiate measures to strengthen them, besides imparting skill-oriented training to children and adopting child-friendly programmes involving children in decision making at appropriate levels,” he said. According to a recent survey conducted by an NGO “Snehalaya Centre for Child Rights”, Guwahati has a population of 5,534 street children, most of them in the age group of 12-17 years. (PTI)