Women and Child Development Minister Atishi unveiled the fourth issue of the DCPCR “Children First-Journal on Children’s Lives” on Wednesday at Veer Savarkar Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Kalkaji. This latest edition marks a significant evolution in the journal’s perspective, expanding its thematic focus to embrace a broader range of concerns related to child rights and children’s well-being. The fourth issue delves deeper into various domains and multiple disciplines to address crucial issues impacting children’s lives. The latest issue of the journal presents nearly 30 writings and research papers, including 6 from children. It also has various paintings of children from all over the country.

This issue also raises conceptual and procedural concerns related to sensitively addressing children’s needs and rights in different contexts. It highlights issues such as inadvertently labeling children, ethical considerations within legal processes, and the importance of sensitive interactions and privacy protection during social investigations and interrogations involving children.

While addressing the attendees at the launch, Ms. Atishi congratulated the DCPCR for launching the latest edition of their journal and stated that the name of the journal itself speaks volumes about the need to keep “Children First.” She said, “The previous editions of the journal had included voices from not only researchers and educationists but also from children themselves. This launch of the latest edition and recent incidents reminds us that we need to create a planet that is more equal, just and happier for the children of our country.”

Ms. Atishi said, “Recent incident in Delhi had starkly reminded everyone about the importance of prioritizing children.” Referring to the brutal murder of a teenage girl a few days ago in Delhi, she mentioned that onlookers had stood by while people debated about who was responsible for the act. She said, “This is certainly a law and order situation, but the incident has also raised deeper questions for society and the country about where they had gone wrong. It has made everyone question the circumstances that might have led a young person to commit such a violent act.” She pointed out that not only the perpetrator but also the onlookers who failed to react and the society were collectively responsible for the crime.

She said that the incident has left everyone questioning what could be done by the society, the country, and educators to prevent such incidents from happening again.

Further, Ms. Atishi outlined the Delhi government’s vision and initiatives for the children of Delhi, highlighting the government’s commitment over the past eight years to providing equal opportunities and improving the quality of education. She said, “The Delhi government had set an example by investing the largest part of its annual budget, 25%, in education, making it the only state to do so.”
She further added, “There is a common notion in the country that if a child is born into a wealthy family where parents have the money to pay for expensive private school fees, they get them admitted there. On the other hand, there is a child from a poor family whose parents cannot afford to get them admitted to an expensive private school, so they are compelled to enroll in a government school.”

She added that if we look at the data of government schools across the country, it reveals that more than 50 percent chances are that if a child takes admission to a government school, they will drop out before completing their 12th-grade education. If they do not complete their education, they will be compelled to work in someone’s shop or work as house helps. She mentioned that no work is small or big, but in the absence of education, no child should be forced to do such work.

The WCD Minister highlighted the Delhi government’s investment in school infrastructure under the leadership of CM Arvind Kejriwal. This investment aimed to give students a sense of self-worth. Additionally, the government prioritized addressing emotions such as unhappiness, anger and anxiety among students from underprivileged backgrounds in Delhi government schools through curriculums like the Happiness Curriculum, Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum, and Deshbhakti curriculum. These curriculums, implemented in Delhi government schools, focus on shaping children into good human beings.

She added that these steps were taken on priority by the Kejriwal government because students who attended government schools were often made to feel like second-class citizens due to the prevailing mindset. This feeling of disrespect and negligence from society could contribute to incidents as seen recently.

Ms. Atishi further stated that the recent incident of brutal murder highlighted the need to invest in children and their future in order to shape them into good citizens. Alongside infrastructural changes, she emphasized the importance of pedagogical changes and curriculum reforms to ensure the same.

In conclusion, Ms. Atishi’s remarks underscored the importance of prioritizing children’s well-being, addressing educational disparities, investing in infrastructure, and fostering positive mindsets through curriculum changes. These efforts aimed to create a society that valued and supported its children, ultimately leading to a safer and more equal environment.

It is to be noted that the initial two issues were profoundly influenced by the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, primarily exploring its ramifications on education and health. However, the third issue broadened its perspective to encompass recovery and resilience across various domains. The fourth issue takes this expansion further by delving into topics that transcend children’s immediate needs, including law, protection, destitute care, social marginalization, educational quality regulation, research ethics, child marriages, investment in adolescence, and women’s employment. It adopts a systemic perspective, examining issues related to adolescence, family, mothering, institutional care, and law, all of which profoundly impact children’s care, health, and well-being.

Consistent with previous editions, the fourth issue maintains a five-section format comprising Research, Critique and Commentary, Best Practices, Voices from the Ground, Book Reviews, and Interviews. Additionally, it features a special section showcasing original contributions from children, including writings and paintings. Notably, the Book Reviews section includes a unique addition—an insightful review written by a young reader.

Contributions from various child rights organizations from around the world offer a comprehensive, multidimensional, and evidence-based perspective on identified child rights issues across these sections. The journal aims to bridge the gap between researchers and practitioners, fostering an active interface and encouraging multidisciplinary collaboration.

Dignitaries present during the launch were Professor Philip D. Jaffé, Vice-Chair, UNCRC; Dr. Venita Kaul, Chief Editor of Children First Journal; Ms. Soledad Herrero, UNICEF India Chief of Child Protection; and Mr. Anurag Kundu, Chairperson, DCPCR.

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