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Jharkhand yet to come up with a child plan

August 27, 2011

Ushinor Majumdar

Ushinor.Majumdar@hindustantimes.com

Ranchi: As the world grapples with formulating a child development index system to track the development of children worldwide, Jharkhand has yet to publish and implement a consolidated child plan to effectuate the national child policy.

Social welfare – women and child minister, Bimla Pradhan told Hindustan Times, “Unfortunately, it has been pending for long and it will be released after a month.”

Social welfare department joint secretary, Robert Minz told HT, “The plan is ready. It is supposed to consolidate all services that are for the benefit of children.”

“It is not that child development work is stalled, various schemes and committees are operational to address the needs of children,” he adds.

Earlier a draft child plan had been made for 2006-2015. A new plan has been made for 2011-2016. The plan is currently pending approvals of various departments.

MP Mishra, director of social welfare, says, “The plan has been forwarded to various departments for their approval, since the plan is focussed on all-round child welfare – health, education and so on.”

The plan has been made with support from Unicef with their critical inputs. Job Zachariah, chief field officer of Unicef in Jharkhand says, “We have made our inputs and forwarded the plan to the department.”

Jharkhand ranks 24th in terms of its human development index amongst India’s 32 states and union territories. As per child development statistics, Save the Children (which conducted the study) is of the opinion that India (which contributes three-fourths of the South Asia child population) has made the least progress.

As per trends in other states of India, only a consolidated plan and subsequent evaluations of the plan’s effect can show how effective the child plan is, for which the plan itself has to be effectuated first.

According to Zachariah, Jharkhand’s child plan will try to address the issues that hamper child development not the symptoms.

As an example, Zachariah said, “The common conception is that poverty leads to child labour. We believe that a poor schooling system is one of the major reasons for child labour.”

According to Zachariah, this leads to a cycle of poverty and the way towards eradication  of issues such as child labour is through a better schooling system.

The Unicef has also initiated programmes to create a better schooling environment for all sections of society as per the national child policy. For example, Unicef is building the curriculum for special attention groups such as the primitive tribal groups (PTGs).

The Unicef-prepared curriculum will ensure teaching in languages spoken at home and focussing on keeping the educational programme culture and heritage-centric.

Out of Jharkhand’s 32.9 million, only 18.7 million (67%) from age seven onwards are literate. The age group of 0-6 years is 5.2 million, viz nearly 16% of its population, will be in schools over the next 15 years.

EOM

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