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ENROLLING CHILDREN IN URBAN DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANSES

Children are compelled or they
choose to run away from their home / secured living spaces to escape the
environment of abuse, neglect, extreme poverty. Often
very small children lose their way and are never able to find their way back
home. In fact with the time they lost absolute
links with their families. The places where children land up after
escaping or getting lost are often more
dangerous for these little lives. In India, railway platforms  are among those public spaces where
hundreds of children come and often tend to make the
platforms their home. Children who
live on railway platforms in urban areas face a lot of difficulty as they are
constantly exposed to various kinds of vulnerability – abuse, exploitation,
begging and crime syndicates.

In West Bengal, CRY Partner Praajak State level Resource organisation of Coalition for
Childrens Right to Protection ( CCRP) have been running an initiative –
Muktagan (open courtyard) since 2003. This initiative is also a part of Coalition
for Child Rights Protection (CCRP) to deal with Children on railway platforms
in collaboration with the Railway authority and the Railway Protection Force
(RPF). Through this Open Shelter provided by
the Railways, the children living on the platforms receive primary education, mid-day meals, wholesome entertainment,
an opportunity to bathe, access to government medical services and a safe
shelter to spend the night.

Since 19th
August 2013 till date Prajak was able to admit 11 children Primary and Upper
Primary school. This was a big achievement for CRY Partner – Praajak as they successfully
enrolled 11 of these children to formal
schools under the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE). Praajak
closely worked with Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of the district and District
officer of SSA(Sarva Siksha Abhiyan) and ensured formal schooling for these
kids. Education has becoming a fundamental right since last four years, however
children in need of care and protection (CCNP) often fail to gain enough
attention. These children often continue to stay ‘invisible’ to the system.
This one small step towards formal education brings in a lot of hope for
these 11 young lives.  After the Durga Puja holidays approximately 5 more
children will be admitted.

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