At village courts, children turn changemakers

At village courts, children turn changemakers

Residents of Hettappanahatti, a village in Tumakuru, have access to bus service thanks to a concern raised by a young girl at a Makkala Gram Sabha held in the village.

Every year, hundreds of children from villages across Karnataka take part in meetings organised by their respective gram panchayats for discussing and solving issues related to children and their communities.

The concept was introduced by the state government in 2006 to bring greater understanding of democracy and governance in children and help them become responsible citizens.

The children’s gram sabha holds ‘child rights fortnight’ in the third and fourth week of November every year. Makkala Grama Sabha is organised on one of these days.

Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA), a Bengaluru-based organisation, has been facilitating children’s gram sabhas in all villages of Chikkaballapur and Tumakuru districts.

The meeting provides a platform for children to discuss issues faced by them and facilitates their direct engagement with the respective officials and stakeholders of the community. The Children’s Gram Sabha is attended by representatives of the government, anganwadi workers, officials of the Women and Child Development Department, schoolteachers, police officers, school development monitoring committees, local NGOs among others.

“The participating officers are responsible for collating statistics with respect to children in their jurisdiction. The responsible stakeholders are required to take immediate action on the issues raised by children at the gram sabha,” said Marulappa P R, of CMCA, who coordinates the regional school programme.

The CMCA has organised over 40 Makkala Gram Sabhas in the past seven years in Chikkaballapur and Tumakuru districts.

“In 2016, as many as 2,928 children from 105 schools participated in the meetings. Out of the 397 problems reported by children in 2016, half of them have been solved so far,” said Marulappa, who is responsible for coordinating the regional school programme at CMCA.

The children have been able to drive various positive changes by their active engagement in the gram sabhas. These include stopping vandalism in a school at Jangamanakote, helping revamp the infrastructure of schools and highlighting pressing civic issues in their villages.

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