Giving voices to the Young at Risk
Cheryl Bartholomeusz, Manager- Research and Documentation, Breads Bangalore introduced us to ‘CREAM’ – Child Rights Education and Action Movement. This program focuses not so much on schooling but on ‘education to life’. Having started in 2012 it now spans 20 districts in Karnataka.
The 3 principle groups of stakeholders include-
- Children in government schools – who are trained to become ambassadors of their own rights through platforms created for them.
- Adults in local communities – who are sensitised about children’s rights, and learn to protect and promote them. This provides the empowered children with an environment that resonates with speaking up and standing for their rights.
- Local government Institutions – are sensitized about their roles in protecting and promoting children’s rights.
The initiative can be explained in three segments:
- Actions by enabled children – children are trained on human rights and child rights enabling them to identify between what is allowed and not allowed. This creates impact on various levels in their lives – child marriages are stopped, instances of child abuse are identified and prevented, child labourers are rescued, school dropouts are re-enrolled etc. There have been more than 14,588 instances of school infrastructure being improved since the children became aware and unafraid to speak up. Platforms like child rights clubs allow them to voice their opinions and use government organizations to access their basic rights. External evaluations of the program found that the knowledge of the children trained by cream as compared to those that haven’t stand at a marked 100% higher. These children have a 98% increase in their ability to identify and perceive how ‘child rights practices’ are different in various communities. These empowered children are unafraid and use various press means, rallies and campaigns to create awareness. The children from the CREAM supplementary education centres are rights based ambassadors in the community. State and district clubs formed advocates with government and institutional officials.
- Actions by enabled adults – adults are enabled through SHGs, youth programs, community leaders and these showed a behavioural impact on them. Institutionalised structures like task forces and child protection committees allow these adults to become vital stakeholders in ensuring child rights.
- Enabled authorities – an ecosystem for child rights includes sensitising panchayati raj officials and adding child rights to agendas of political and electoral candidates.
To ensure longevity of the program, resources towards sustainability have been created by empowering children, creating training material in collaboration with UNICEF that teach child rights in schools and for the formation of child rights clubs, in the local language.
CREAM was created using the best practices of Salesians of Don Bosco over the years and is a tribute to all the years of experience with the young at risk
The Don Bosco Network in India comprises of 11 Planning and Development Organisations (PDOs), each dedicated to the development of the Salesian provinces they serve. The Don Bosco network is spread across 29 states and 354 NGOs, reaching more than 10 lakh people.