These initiatives are made special by their focus on child participation in governance, capacity building of children, redesigning the long-term development plans through a child lens and priority budgeting and expenditure by the government on issues identified by or important for children. As per the findings of the report, ‘Forgotten voices: The world of urban children in India’ jointly produced by Save the Children India and PwC India, Kerala, Karnataka and Ahmedabad lead the way in child-focussed programs.
Kerala has included the local self-governments in the planning, implementation and monitoring, of women and child-friendly programmes.
Apart from this, child development programmes have also benefitted by association with people involved in the Kudumbashree poverty alleviation programme. Anganwadis created under the ICDS programme are primarily involved in child care development for children less than six years.
KILA, the autonomous body at the state level, has established the child resource centre (CRC-KILA), in association with the UNICEF, which seeks to provide support and training for effective child-centric governance throughout Kerala.
Apart from these functions, administration, infrastructure maintenance of schools, mainly the primary (classes 1 to 4) and upper primary (classes 5 to 7) schools are also the responsibility of municipalities. Monitoring is carried out by the LSG (local self government) standing committee for health and education. These schools compulsorily implement the centrally sponsored schemes such as mid-day meal and the SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan). Medical equipment, scholarships, pensions and stipend are provided for specially-abled persons under the SSA. Block level LSGs administer industrial training Institutes, while higher secondary and vocational schools are governed by the district level LSG.
Karnataka started the initiative of bal sabha through a circular in 2007. It is a children’s assembly on the lines of the gram sabha. It brings out concerns of children and forwards them to the Panchayat and state officials. The Concern for Working Children (CWC) has begun working to develop children’s participation in governance in urban areas. In January 2012 CWC, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and other organisations facilitated the first children’s ward sabha in India, in the Vigyan Nagar ward of Bengaluru. Ward sabhas are broadly the urban equivalents of gram sabhas, and enable local children to identify problems and present proposals to adult officials. The BBMP mayor extended his support in conducting such meetings for children across Bengaluru.
A network in Ahmedabad, aProCh, plans to make Ahmedabad into a child-friendly city through activities catering to children. It organises events for children called ‘parents of the park’. Under this initiative, children from different backgrounds meet in a city park. Activities include storytelling, exercises and games, magic shows, etc. Moreover, Ahmedabad Municipal authorities and police close down a main thoroughfare six times a year for a child-orientated street party organised by aProCh.