Children get to learn that they have the right to education, expression, nutrition, and recreation amongst other things.
For the past six years, government and aided schools in Mangalore have been teaching students about children's rights under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Teachers tell children about their right to education and to good health, the good habits they should cultivate and how to ask for their rights.
Geetha, Assistant Project Coordinator, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Dakshina Kannada, said that every class has a box into which students can put chits of paper with whatever questions they have in mind. Once every week, the box (called the “Makkala Hakku Kosha” or the “Child Rights Question Box” is opened in the presence of the headmistress and the teacher and the queries are answered. The children ask a wide range of questions. Some say that their teacher is not paying attention to them. Or, they ask questions about things that worry them and sometimes about their subjects. The student may or may not mention his name on the chit.
The awareness programme has been introduced particularly because the attitude of children towards teachers has changed.
Joanna Coelho, Headmistress Incharge, Infant Mary's Higher Primary School, said that it is challenging to teach children because they are difficult to handle, especially as some come from broken homes or are abused. So a programme that brought about awareness among them about their rights was good.
Another teacher said that the questions the students put into the question box were mostly about Maths and other subjects they were studying in school.