Thriuvananthapuram: The Social Justice Department has set aside, at least for the time being, the direction of the State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights to conduct an urgent survey to identify street children across the state and provide them shelter, education and food.
The Commission issued the express directive on April 10 after an independent survey conducted by the NGO, Don Bosco Veedu Society, had revealed that there were 140 street children in the capital city.
More than 50 percent of these children, 75 of them, were below 8 years. It was also found that 15 percent of them engaged in begging and 18 percent in daily wage labour.
The remaining refused to reveal their occupation. These children, the survey revealed, had no shelter, education or proper food.
These alarming figures prompted the Child Rights Commission to envisage a comprehensive state-wide survey involving multiple departments and NGOs. The Social Justice Department, however, was not keen.
“There is no scope for such a survey. The problem is endemic to only Corporation areas. Perhaps, we can look at identifying out-of-school children in corporation areas. But there are no such plans for this year,” said Social Justice director V N Jithendran.
The Commission feels that such a survey is crucial for the welfare of children who have spilled out of the school system. “That there were 140 street children in the capital city alone is a pointer to the fact that such large numbers of street children can be found in other towns and cities in the state,” said Fr Philip Parakatt, a Child Rights Commission member.
These children end up in the street as children of migrant labourers or as runaways from homes or as victims of parental and child abuse. They are then forced to eke out a living as beggars and child labourers.
“After the Right to Education Act has come into force, it is up to the local bodies to check whether children living within its limits are provided free education. But no one seems conscious of all this,” Fr Parakatt said....