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Important Advocacy Highlights


2012-13:

South India level campaign against closure of government schools (in the unified state)

Two planning meetings were held in order to facilitate this campaign – one at Bangalore in September and the other one at Tirupathi in October.  All the 4 state alliances conveners participated in these meetings in which CRY representatives were present.

The following specific demands were finalized for the campaign in A.P.:

  1. All the government schools closed since 2007 must be reopened with immediate effect.
  2. No government school should be closed in the name of low enrolment of children.
  3. All the children below the age of 18 years must be brought under the purview of Right to Education Act 2009.
  4. Quality education and infrastructure should be provided in all the government schools.
  5. Complete security and infrastructure facilities should be provided to all the girl children in government schools and welfare hostels.
  6. Sufficient new Anganwadi centres should be started with immediate effect in order to cover all the below 6 years children under Anganwadi services.
  7. Quality midday meal should be provided to all the pre-school-age children and working hours of Anganwadi centres should be increased.
  8. There should not be any move by government to reduce the definition of age of Child from 18 to 16 years. 
  9. Committee should be appointed to the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights immediately.


Though district partners and state leadership tried to get the information pertaining to closed & merged schools through RTI Act, they were not successful except in two districts.  Hence, PVCR used secondary data in the campaign.

Case stories were prepared by each district and shared with state leadership.  Though it was intended to conduct this campaign in 8 districts in A.P., it was conducted only in 6 districts as there were no required preparations in other two districts.  Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, Chittoor and YSR Kadapa districts conducted the campaign while East Godavari and Adilabad could not do it.

In the 6 districts, Press Meets were held with children and Memorandum with PVCR demands was submitted to the District Collectors. 

At state-level, there was a Press Meet with 7 children and Memorandum was submitted to the State Governor, Education Minister, Women & Child Welfare Minister and SHRC.

2013-14:

1)    Election Advocacy Campaign: (in the unified state)

As part of the CRY EAC, alliance members were involved in 2 important activities – a) meeting with political party leaders to explain CRY CR manifesto; b) Signature campaign in support of child rights.

Alliance members played an important role in securing the appointments with different political parties and met with them and discussed about CRY child rights manifesto and requested them to prioritize child rights in their respective manifestos.  Alliance members met with the following political parties:

07-11-2013: TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samithi) – met with Mr. Etela Rajender, TRS Floor Leader in AP Legislative Assembly & MLA and submitted the CR manifesto.  He discussed about issues of children and how successive governments failed in fulfilling their promises towards children at length.  He has assured that he will take up the CR manifesto with his party President Mr. K. Chandrasekhar Rao and would discuss this in their drafting committee meetings and would definitely prioritize this in their manifesto.  He has also shared that one of the most important policy-level decision of TRS is that of providing free education from Kindergarten to Post Graduation for all.  He has assured of arranging a meeting with the party President with CRY team at a later date.

07-11-2013: MIM (Majlis-e-ittehadul Muslimeen) – met with Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi, the President of the MIM & Member of Parliament and submitted the CR manifesto.  There was no prior appointment but met him at his office.  He acknowledged that it is a very important issue and hence would like to discuss in detail with the team again. He advised to meet him later to discuss in detail about the CR manifesto.

09-11-2013: YSRCP (YSR Congress Party) – met with Mr. Jupudi Prabhakar Rao, Official Spokesperson of YSRCP & MLC and submitted the CR manifesto.  He said that he will discuss with the manifesto drafting committee and do the needuful.  He has assured that first he will arrange for a meeting with one of the subject-experts in the party with CRY persons and then arrange for a meeting with the party President Mr. Jaganmohan Reddy.  He acknowledged that children’s issues are very important and hence would need to seriously think about them.

11-11-2013: TDP (Telugu Desam Party) – met with Mr. Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, TDP Floor Leader in AP Legislative Council & MLC & TDP Polit Bureau Member & manifesto drafting committee Chairperson and submitted the CR manifesto.  He discussed about each and every point in CR manifesto and in fact called two of the drafting committee members and assigned them the responsibility of studying the CRY CR manifesto and noted the important points for discussions during their manifesto drafting committee meetings. He also advised to meet with the party President Mr. Chandrababu Naidu at a later time and discuss with him the CR manifesto.

13-11-2013: TDP (Telugu Desam Party) – met with Mr. Chandra Babu Naidu, the President of TDP, submitted the CRY child rights manifesto and requested him to prioritize and include the issues of children in their party election manifesto.  He had a glance on the main points in the CRY child rights manifesto and assured of discussing that in detail in the party’s manifesto drafting committee meeting and do the needful.  In fact, he passed on the CRY child rights manifesto booklet to one of the members of the manifesto drafting committee there and then.

Click here to see The Child Rights Manifesto - CRY

2014-15:

1)    PVCR Election advocacy campaign:

PVCR members prepared a child rights manifesto in March 2014, keeping in view the assembly and general elections that were due in the first quarter of 2014-15.  PVCR members in different districts met with many contesting MP and MLA candidates and discussed about the importance of including the CR manifesto points into their party manifestos.  This CR manifesto pamphlets were also distributed among public and public were urged to send out a clear message to all the political parties that their support would be to those political parties which assure of protecting the child rights.  Apart from this, the pamphlets were affixed at various community-based institutions, government offices and other public places so that more and more people will be aware of the situation of child rights and express their solidarity to the cause.  All the PVCR members actively advocated for the cause of child rights during election advocacy campaign.

As part of signature campaign, 1,45,944 signatures were collected from the public in favour of CRY child rights manifesto and demanding all the political parties to incorporate the points in their respective manifestos.

2)    Campaign against closure of upper primary sections in schools:

Even during this academic year, government closed several primary schools in the State citing “low enrolment” as the reason.  Apart from this, there are now efforts to close down Upper Primary sections in 1428 schools in Andhra Pradesh, where there are less than 20 students.  PVCR was concerned about this as that would ultimately result in closing down of the 1428 Primary Schools also as closing the Upper Primary sections would result in low strength in Primary classes.

As this matter needed immediate attention, PVCR-AP State Governing Board members alongwith some PVCR-Telangana State Governing Board members met with the Chief Minister Mr. Chandra Babu Naidu and also with the Opposition Leader in the State Assembly Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy and submitted memorandum to protect government schools.  In the memorandum, PVCR members stated that majority of the students studying in government schools belong to the most marginalized S.C., S.T. and Backward Castes and closing-down of these schools would adversely impact those students.  The PVCR study report on “status of malnutrition among the children in A.P. (unififed)” was also submitted to the Chief Minister.  The news was published in Sakshi and Andhra Jyothi state main editions.

Prior to meeting with the Chief Minister, the President of PVCR-AP, Mrs. Lalithamma has spoken to the Press persons in Chittoor district and shared the concerns of PVCR in this regard and about the advocacy plans of PVCR.

Some of the main demands in the memorandum are –

  • Government should immediately withdraw its plans to close-down 1428 Upper Primary school in the name of “low enrolment” and to stop closing down the Primary schools.
  • A committee should be constituted to study the existing standards in government schools and to make recommendations for improving the standards in government schools.
  • Government should take immediate measures to improve the quality of education in schools.
  • Government should ensure that all school-age children should be in schools and take measures to completely eradicate the Child Labour system.


The Chief Minister has assured that he will look into the matter and take measures to protect the government schools.  Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy has asked his media team to do a field survey about closure of schools and submit a report to him.  Mr. Reddy has assured that he will take up this matter with the government.

This was a very successful advocacy campaign which prevented closure of 1428 upper primary schools.

3)    State-level consultation on cluster school system:

 In October 2014, government of A.P. came out with cluster school system concept, wherein it was proposed to have a maximum of 10-15 schools in each Mandal and merge the rest of the schools into these schools.  Such a move would result in closing down of about 80% or about 35,000 of the schools in the state.  As this system would impact the access to school for lakhs of children, PVCR wanted to consult a state-level consultation in order to know the opinion of other important stakeholders such as teachers’ unions, civil society organizations and academicians.  The worrisome factor was that government had not given any clear idea about how system works.

The consultation was conducted at Tirupathi and 35 organizations / individuals participated in the consultation.  The participants discussed at length about the proposed system and came out with the following opinions:

  • The proposed system is against the spirit of Right to free and compulsory Education Act.
  • It would impact the education rights of lakhs of children, especially children from rural areas, very badly as access to schools would become difficult for children. 
  • The dropout rate will drastically increase as the free transport promised by government may not become a reality.
  • Child labour will increase.
  • The system does not allow children to have an opportunity to study in their neighbourhood.
  • Depending upon the distance to school, some families may have to move from their villages to another village or nearby town.
  • Admissions into private schools will increase and private schools will thrive.
  • Due to large number of children expected in cluster schools, there may be compromise on the quality of midday meals and other facilities, especially sanitary facilities and hygienic environment for children.


The consultation called upon the government to immediately withdraw its plan to implement the cluster school system.  It also urged government to involve civil society organizations, parents and academicians before taking any such important decisions.  All the teachers’ unions and academicians also were of the opinion that such a system would be detrimental to the interests of children and hence such a move should be opposed.  PVCR issued a press statement to that effect and also a way forward was planned to have two more consultations at different locations in order to pressurize the government to withdraw its plans.  Teachers’ unions also promised that they would conduct consultations on behalf of their unions and they in fact conducted it.  The teachers’ unions discussed the concerns with the Education Minister and they were assured of rethinking before implementing the policy fully.  Government also said that it would like to implement it as a pilot and see how the results will be. 

Since December 2014 government did not actively pursue this concept.  But, there is an apprehension that government might be planning to implement this concept from the next academic year.

4)    Status of malnutrition among 0-5 years children – advocacy:

PVCR had conducted a study on the status of malnutrition among 0-5 years children in the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh and had released the report in March 2014.  Now that the state has been bifurcated, PVCR members felt it necessary to prepare separate report for the state of Andhra Pradesh and submit it to the government along with their recommendations to take appropriate action to improve the nutrition status of children.  The separate report for A.P. constituted data from 6 districts i.e. Chittoor, Anantapur, YSR Kadapa, East Godavari, Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram.  It covered 3077 children in 117 ICDS centres.

The following were the main findings pertaining to A.P. state:

  • Out of 3077 children in 117 centers, 35% were underweight and within that 12% were severely underweight.
  • There are only 61 ICDS centers that have own building out of a total of 233 surveyed. Then again, only 65% of the ICDS centers are in concrete structures. The remaining 35% under asbestos sheets or are thatched ones. In other words, 35% are still not all-weather centers (in combined state). 
  • Out of 117 ICDS centers 74 centers (63.24%) do not have electricity connection.
  • Out of 117 ICDS centers 70% do not have toilet facility,
  • Out of 117 ICDS centers 42% do not have water facility for cooking,
  • Out of 117 ICDS centers 21% do not have nature of Drinking facility,
  • Out of 117 ICDS centers 13% do not have first aid facility,
  • Out of 117 ICDS centers 21% do not have weighing machines, but 15% available but under repair,
  • Out of 117 ICDS centers 83% do not have height measuring scale in the centers.


PVCR members discussed the above concerns with the Commissioner of Women and Child Development department and submitted a memorandum in which the main demands were to take measures to increase the nutrition status of children by providing quality and sufficient food, to ensure staff in all the ICDS centres, to ensure good infrastructure facilities in all the ICDS centres, to start new centres wherever required, to ensure good monitoring of the centres by higher officials and to enhance budgetary allocations for ICDS programme.

5)    Study of social welfare hostels & advocacy:

While working towards ensuring adequate standard of infrastructure in social welfare hostels in the state, PVCR realized that there were many hostels where infrastructure facilities were not as per guidelines.  Moreover, as social welfare hostels play an important role in ensuring the education rights of the marginalized children, PVCR thought it would be appropriate to survey some hostels to find out how far they have good infrastructure facilities.  It may be noted that there are 1448 social welfare hostels in the state of Andhra Pradesh as per the latest available data and out of that 945 are boys’ hostels and 503 are girls’ hostels.  And, these hostels have 1,18,528 enrolled children.

Objectives of the PVCR Study:

  • To identify the status of infrastructure facilities in social welfare hostels and make an assessment of lack of prescribed facilities in the hostels.
  • To submit the findings to government and seek positive action from government to improve the social welfare hostels in the entire state.
  • To ensure, through adequate advocacy with government, quality living conditions in the social welfare hostels where children, especially girl children will have comfort, good atmosphere for studies and a secure environment.

 

Hostels surveyed:

The below mentioned table gives information of district-wise number of hostels covered in the survey:

District

No. of hostels covered

Chittoor

17

Anantapur

6

YSR (Kadapa)

6

Nellore

6

East Godavari

4

Visakhapatnam

5

Vizianagaram

6

Total

50

 

The below mentioned table gives information of category-wise number of hostels covered in the survey:

Category

No. of hostels covered

Scheduled Caste

19

Scheduled Tribe

14

Backward Caste

17

Total

50

 

The survey was carried out between February and March of 2015.  A total of 24 boys’ hostels and 26 girls’ hostels were covered in the survey.

Major findings of the Survey

  • There is a total strength of 5573 children in the 50 hostels that were surveyed.
  • 98% hostels have drinking water availability within the hostel.
  • 96% hostels are getting rice from Public Distribution System whereas only 4% of the hostels are getting fine rice.
  • 16% hostels do not have own buildings.
  • 88% hostels do not have ramp facility.
  • 20% of the total toilets are not functional.  On an average, 18 children use one functional toilet.
  • 11% of the total bathrooms are not functional.  On an average, 20 children use one functional bathroom.
  • 58% hostels do not have play ground facility.
  • 52% hostels do not have play material for children.
  • 18% hostels do not have compound wall.
  • 8% hostels do not have permanent Warden and 4% hostels do not have Watchman.
  • 69% of girls’ hostels do not provide sanitary napkins for girls.
  • 12% hostels do not conduct health check-up for children.
  • 8% hostels do not pay cosmetic charges to children.
  • 46% hostels do not conduct parents’ committee meetings regularly.

 

Recommendations:

PVCR puts forth the following recommendations to government in order to ensure quality infrastructure and living conditions in the social welfare hostels in the state:

  • It was observed during the survey that there is not enough living space for children in the hostel dormitories as more number of children are placed in each dormitory due to lack of space.  Additional dormitories / rooms need to be constructed in order to provide adequate space for each child.
  • With regard to usage of toilets and bath-rooms – there is already a high number of children per unit and in addition to that the non-functional toilets and bath-rooms are causing much inconvenience to children in the hostels.  This situation also takes away most time of the children as they have to wait for their turns for a long time.  Hence, sufficient number of toilets and bath-rooms need to be constructed immediately. 
  • Fine rice should be supplied to all the hostels as per G.O. Rt. No. 22 dated 20-02-2015.  As 96% hostels are not getting fine rice, government needs to ensure this with immediate effect.
  • Own buildings need to be ensured by government for all the hostels as the rented building are often too small.  Budgetary allocations towards construction of new hostel buildings need to be made on priority basis.
  • Ramp facility is an important requirement for differently abled children and hence this facility needs to be ensured in all the hostels with immediate effect.
  • Due importance need to be given for the recreation facilities for children and towards ensuring that government needs to arrange play ground facility for all the hostels and ensure regular supply of play materials to all the hostels.
  • Compound wall is an essential requirement in order to protect children from any possible outside danger, especially in the case of girls’ hostels, and hence government needs to ensure this facility in all the hostels.
  • Permanent Wardens should be ensured in all the hostels and adequate security measures to be taken by appointing security personnel in all the hostels.
  • Provision of free sanitary napkins is the right of all girl children studying in the hostels.  As most of the girls’ hostels do not provide this, girls face hygiene related problems.  In order to ensure personal hygiene of all girls, government has to ensure regular supply of free sanitary napkins to all the girls’ hostels.
  • Likewise, health check-up needs to be ensured in all the hostels.  The monitoring officers should be given the responsibility of ensuring regular health check-ups.
  • Wardens should be given specific instructions to conduct regular meetings of parents committee as this interface would give better opportunity for children and parents to discuss about issues of their concern.
  • Finally, the budgetary allocations towards social welfare hostels need to be enhanced in order to provide quality care for all the children.  Such quality care would result in better education of children studying in these hostels and shape their life well.

 

6)    Advocacy on JJ Bill:

PVCR members sent the petition, seeking no change in the current definition of child as upto 18 years, sent to all the members of Parliament from Andhra Pradesh – both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha before the Bill was taken up for discussion in parliament.

7)    Important G.O.s issued during the year:

As a result of PVCR advocacy, the following government orders were issued by the government during the year:

  • Appointment of 1000 creche workers  and converting 1000 Anganwadis into AWC-cum-Creche – G.O.Ms.No. 17 dated 15-05-2014.
  • Guidelines for SUW / SAM / MAM monitoring – G.O.Ms.No. 20 dated 21-05-2014.
  • Parameters and Menu for SAM / MAM children – G.O.Ms.No. 15 dated 28-02-2014 (this was not reported in LY ARPM)
  • Government recommendations for special care and supervised feeding for 0-5 years SAM/MAM/SUW – Introduction of “Gorumuddalu” programme – G.O. Ms. No. 26 dated 16-09-2014.
  • Supply of best quality rice to schools, hostels, colleges – G.O. Ms. No. 22 dated 20-02-2015.

Click here to read PVCR Child Rights Manifesto

2015-16:

State Advocacy highlights:

  • Memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner of School Education on the infrastructure related problems in schools, to improve quality of midday meals in schools and sought information on government spending on midday meals through religious bodies.
  • Submitted memorandum to the Deputy Secretary, School Education on the issue of proposed closure / merger of 15476 primary schools.  Only about 1400 primary schools were merged / closed during the year.
  • Submitted micro study report to the Joint Director, School Education and sought improvements in the schools.
  • Participated in RTE Forum regional meeting at Tirupathi and contributed in the area of changes to be brought about in RCFCE Act
  • Done advocacy on CLPRA Bill with AICC Vice President, Ashok Gajapathiraju – MP, Dr. Siva Prasad – MP, Nithin Reddy – MP and Vara Prasada Rao – MP.
  • Representation was given to the Forest Minister against merger of schools and for expanding the ITDA to Prakasham, Chittoor and Kadapa.  Currently, Nellore ITDA extends services in these three districts.

Specific achievements through advocacy at district-level:

The following were reported as outcome of district-level advocacy during the year:

Indicator

Achievement - No. of institutions

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

Number of government schools prevented from closure

59

15

80

61

Number of schools where infrastructure facilities were improved due to Alliance advocacy

190

142

151

150

Number of schools where girls' toilets were constructed / reactivated due to Alliance advocacy

211

61

61

86

Number of social welfare hostels where infrastructure facilities were improved due to Alliance advocacy

126

66

86

71