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(In conversation with the Honorable Vice-President of India)
Our advocacy strategies are meticulously planned and we strike multiple targets when the timing is right and change for children is most likely. Our advocacy is based on the programmatic evidence which we’ve developed while working with children and their families across India. With our evidence from the field we lobby government, pro-active MPs, ministers, journalists, business people, academics and individuals from all walks of life so that policies, programmes, behaviour and institutions are child centric support the sustainable changes needed to improve the lives of children.
Following is a summary of the work we are doing as part of the program;
Child labour continues to rob children of their childhood and we take a multi pronged approach to solving this by working in villages to sensitise families about the long term benefits of education, businesses to show that child labour is not acceptable and law makers to strengthen the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986.
Save the Children advocates for the effective prohibition of all forms of labour for children up to 14 years of age and take measures to effectively address the issues of trafficking of children with comprehensive rehabilitation and education provisions made for children removed from the labour force.
In spite of the largest education system in the world, India still faces problems of low levels of literacy achievement and poor quality of education with 37 percent of the population lacking literacy skills; 53 percent of children dropping out at the elementary level and over 75 percent of rural schools being under staffed.
Save the Children advocates that all children must learn with their peers in safe schools and they should not be segregated based on ability, gender, race, or ethnicity. As part of our strategy, we focus on, building and strengthening ‘Inclusive Learner Friendly Environments’ catering to the age groups of 3-18 years, within diverse educational settings. With the historic passing of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009, Save the Children is advocating that government at the State and national levels work together and develop the financial framework so that the promise of free and quality education to children between the ages of 6 and 14 can be implemented across India.
With two million children dying every year before they reach the age of five, Save the Children has launched its biggest global campaign ever, called EVERY ONE, with the aim of engaging literally EVERY ONE to tackle newborn and infant mortality. Our key advocacy aim of the campaign is to increase the Government’s public health expenditure to 3% of GDP by 2012, train Anganwadi workers on how to provide crucial pre and post-natal care and to develop convergence strategies between the key ministries which deal with health and nutrition so that reducing child mortality is a priority and government schemes and programmes are implemented in tandem.
When it comes to Emergencies like the Kosi floods of 2008, Save the Children aren’t just on the scene within hours, we’re providing technical support to government and working with multiple aid agencies to co-ordinate aid as quickly and effectively as possible to save lives. Furthermore, post emergency we work to set up child friendly spaces and restart ICDS centres so that children have access to food and nutrition and have places to play and learn which are clean and safe.