Archive for August, 2009

Silent Samaritans: Chennai NGOs start activity centres for child domestic workers

NGOs start activity centres for child domestic workers

M Ramya | TNN

Chennai: After the case of 10-year-old Rameshwari Jadhav being beaten and scalded by her employer — a small-time TV actor in Mumbai — came to light, the labour ministry is trying to curb the practice of employing children as domestic workers.

But not many people are interested in children like 15-year-old R Ragini, an orphan living with her brother and sister, who has been working as a maid in a house in Rajapillai Thottam in T Nagar for 12 years.

Ragini dropped out of school when she was in Class III, and can’t even write her own name. If she had been discovered a year ago, legal action could have been taken against her employer for hiring a child in hazardous labour, but now the Child Labour Prevention and Regulation Act (CLPRA) cannot help her since she is over 14 years.

An ongoing survey of child domestic workers in the city by two NGOs, Save The Children and Arunodaya Centre for Street and Working Children, shows that there are 35 children being employed in households in Kodambakkam, T Nagar and Choolaimedu, and 22 children in T P Chattram, Anna Nagar and Aminjikarai, many of them between 14 and 18 years.
Programme manager of Save The Children in the state Sandhya Krishnan says, “Though child labour has been included as a hazardous form of labour under the CLPRA, it states that only children under 14 cannot be employed in hazardous forms of labour, leaving those aged between 14 and 18 years (who are also children under Article 32 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children) without legal protection.”

Many of the children in this age group grow up to become poorly paid unskilled domestic workers. Extra-curricular or recreational activities or learning vocational skills is out of the question. To change this, the NGOs are setting up six contact and activity centres across the city. There are three centres in the city — two in Kodambakkam and one in T P Chattram.

It gives children the opportunity to play games and learn vocational skills such as tailoring and beauty techniques. Where such centres are not possible, the organisations are talking to resident welfare associations in apartments to allow them to use parking areas to give the children vocational training.

E Mala, who handles the centre in Rangarajapuram in Kodambakkam which caters to 23 children between 15 and 17 years, says, “Children can express themselves, increase their self-esteem and have fun. These are things that they never seem to have time for.” Mala, who started working as a domestic help when she was 10, is now studying second year BA History in Quaid-E-Millet College for Women and wants to become a social worker.

Through these centres the NGOs hope to have many success stories like that of Firoza in Kolkata, who successfully completed a six-month beautician course. She has since left her employer and returned to her family in Joynagar, from where she commutes five days a week to Kolkata where she is a practising beautician and to continue her training. Firoza is Ragini’s idol.

“I just learnt how to apply mascara. Next week I’m going to learn how to shape eyebrows. Soon I’ll be working just like Firoza akka,” she says.


Annai Vailankanni Besant Nagar :Our Lady of Good Health Church


New Picture (69)

FESTIVAL TIME: The faithful converged at the Annai Vailankanni Our Lady of Good Health Church in Besant Nagar for the annual fest. It is held as part of the birthday celebrations of Mother Mary. The celebrations began at the church on Saturday with the hoisting of flag. The annual fest begins with a 9-day Novena to the Mother on August 29 every year and culminates on September 8th, the birthday of Mother Mary


Andher Nagari: Education in Maharashtra

Control freak wreaks havoc in education

Is Govt Taking Its Anger Out On Non-SSC Schools For Challenging Earlier Orders?

Anahita Mukherji I TNN

Mumbai: The state government’s latest diktats on school education seem to have born out of an urge to get even, say non-SSC schools and parents of kids who study in these schools. These institutions and parents have come together twice in the last one year to drag the state to court for its policies and have managed to convince the judiciary of their partisan nature both times.

The latest government move comes barely a couple of months after the state’s second defeat in court against non-SSC schools and parents who challenged its decision to reserve 90% of seats in junior colleges for SSC students. The Bombay high court rubbished the decision, calling it “self-contradictory’’ and “unconstitutional’’.

The HC ruling on the state’s percentile system in 2008 was as scathing. The court had found the system “hurried’’, “flawed’’ and “illegal’’ and said the new rule promoted “mediocracy over meritocracy’’ and hurt “students’ right to equality’’.

Non-SSC schools and parents of students going to these schools are again getting ready to challenge the decision. Teaching Schools A Lesson TOI gives in a nutshell the new law laid down by the state and how it impacts non-SSC schools and their students

All schools, irrespective of their boards, will have to follow the SSC English curriculum from classes I to V.
THE QUESTIONS How will kids cope in Std VI?

Every expert agrees that the English curriculum followed in SSC schools is of a lower standard than that taught in most non-SSC schools. Educationists and schoolchildren’s parents are now worried that students may find it difficult to adjust to texts of a higher standard after being reared on a diet of “mediocre texts’’ for five years.

Should govt control other boards?
Why should the government want to control the curriculum of other boards? Then, what’s the point in having different boards?

Should other boards be dragged down to SSC level?
The SSC board has consistently been trying to upgrade its curriculum to match those of other boards. Now why does the government want to drag other boards down to the SSC level?

Why should schools’ freedom be curtailed?
Boards like ICSE and CBSE allow schools the freedom to create their own syllabi up to Std VIII; this allows flexibility and innovation. Why should ICSE and CBSE schools be deprived of this freedom?

All schools will have to introduce Marathi as a compulsory second language from Std I to Std VIII.

What happens if you have to move out of the state? Will kids, taught Marathi as second language till Std VIII, be able to take up another language in Std IX if they have to move out of the state?
Who’ll be responsible for the trauma?

A significant percentage of Mumbaikars have transferable jobs (people working in the government, defence forces, banks, multinational firms, the media). A transfer for parents can often be a little unsettling for the kids. Shouldn’t your children be spared of the additional trauma of coping with a new second language in school? Wouldn’t Hindi as an option make much more sense?

Meddling In Administration
The government has listed other new administrative rules that ICSE, CBSE, IB and IGCSE schools will have to comply with to get a no-objection certificate (NOC). Some of the rules will gladden parents, but there are several that schools fear can be used by the state to arm-twist them at will

NOCs will be given for three years after which they will have to be renewed. The first NOC will be given by the state; the following ones will be given by the deputy director of education.

NOCs can be taken back at any point by the government; schools must comply with its terms and conditions.
During the admissions, schools must procure bona fide birth certificates from students.
The government fee structure will be applicable to these schools.