From Covid to education: New govt journal hopes to put spotlight on children’s voices, issues

The first issue of the bi-annual journal, ‘Children First’, was released Saturday with the theme ‘Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Lives of Children’.

A new journal launched Saturday by Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) is seeking to put children’s voices, their challenges and rights in the spotlight and make them a central part of policy-making related to children.

The first issue of the bi-annual journal, ‘Children First’, was released Saturday with the theme ‘Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Lives of Children’. The journal is multidisciplinary, covering health, education, nutrition, children protection, law and policy, all in relation to children. The next issue will be on the disruptions that education has experienced.

Said the journal’s chief editor Dr Venita Kaul, “It is perhaps the first attempt to give voice to children, a generally unrepresented constituency, by bringing into focus their issues, challenges, concerns by providing a platform to researchers, practitioners, grassroot level workers, parents, activists and all others who engage with children, child rights to share their views and experiences… keeping this diverse participation in mind, the journal attempts to narrow the gap between academic research and reflective practice.”

The first issue includes research work on learning losses during the pandemic by researchers from Azim Premji University; on how children have navigated their social lives online by sociologist Remya Ann Matthew; on students’ perception of the experience of online teaching-learning by government school teacher Neha Yadav; and an analysis of the impact of school closure on education and nutrition by researchers from IIT Roorkee.

It also includes interviews, commentary, and notes from the experiences in different places such as Delhi’s

Nizamuddin Basti, low income communities in Hyderabad, and tribal rural communities in Rajasthan.

Chief guest at the launch, Supreme Court judge Justice Ravindra Bhat, commented on the importance of representation of children. “It’s important and, to my mind, crucial that the role of a children’s commission is to evolve and aid the formation of policies for those who have no voice and agency… Like many other sections of society, children are given a very paternalistic treatment. Policies are made or finalised by people who may or may not be involved with children and children’s rights… The fact remains that the children on whose behalf these policies are made — or at least those whose experience might count — are rarely taken into consideration. It’s time that children’s voices are also heard and I congratulate this effort as a first where children’s voices are kept in the forefront,” he said.

Deputy CM Manish Sisodia took this idea further and said that giving primacy to children will lead to a ‘social revolution’.

“… there are cages which we are not ready to recognise. Children are losing their childhood to the bars behind which we imprison them in the name of respectability, love, care, and caring for the children’s future… The next revolution will be children being considered equal to adults… This rebellion will come from within children, and it should, that ‘Don’t think of us only as your property, don’t just think that you are bigger than us in society and that we will be shaped as you want it to be…’ I hope that the journal will give some material and food for thought to those who think in this direction,” he said.

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