People inspired to envision a new world order must be well equipped to answer the questions the village heads, parents, teachers and the like ask them. They must also be equipped to face those who doubt the efficacy and practicality of the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children. They must be thorough with the concept behind the movement.

Once the rationale and the benefits of the Neighbourhood Parliments of Children are presented clearly to the elders, they will themselves ask for the formation of neighbourhood parliaments of children. The concept and the success stories must be so interestingly and convincingly presented that they feel challenged by the concept.

The following points will help in introducing the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children.

Mr. Rathna Natarajan, Secretary, Department of Non-Formal Education, Tamilnadu, while addressing a meeting said:

This is the finding of serious social research that the students who concentrate only on scoring high grades in examinations fail in real life. At the same time, those average students who also took part in extra curricular activities have done better in life.

The students who are busy only with text books, tuitions and examinations find ill-equipped to face the challenges and pressures of modern day complex realities of life. They lack the confidence and ability to live life to the fullest. They easily become discouraged and at times get depressed.

Neighbourhood Parliments of Children open up horizons of the minds of the children by introducing a broader society and a world beyond their immediate circumstances. The parliaments help children to succeed in life and to grow individually as true persons.

As mentioned above, children and adolescents do not like advices. When adults give guidance to children their spontaneous response is that the elders are old fashioned and that they do not have the grasp of the present generation.

But when challenged to make decisions on their own, children and adolescents do so with resolve. Along the process they get formed and grow as better persons. In executing the resolutions they take, they manifest steadfastness and firmness.

Neighbourhood Parliments of Children provide them forums which make it possible for them to properly discuss and decide together.

Recently a session of the Tamil Nadu State Parliament of Children took place at Kovalam in Kanyakumari district. During the meeting the children made an in depth analysis of various issues. The analysis included an evaluation of their rights and duties and their value systems. So much so, the Coordinator of the Tamil Nadu Alliance for Neighbourhood Parliments of Children, Raphael Isaac observed: We do not any more to give them guidance. They will discuss among themselves, guide themselves and correct themselves.

As far as children are concerned it is known that they accept peer suggestions better than the corrections by the adults.

Mr. Joseph Rathnam, editor of Kulandaikal Paralumanram narrates his story of visiting a village. The members of the Neighbourhood Parliments of Children happened to share their experiences with him.

The Education Minister of the Neighbourhood Parliment of Children of the village had moved a resolution during one of its sessions, that all the members of the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children must pass the examinations.

True to their resolution, all of them did pass in the examination.

As the next examination season came around, the Education Minister again moved the parliament. This time the resolution said that all of them must pass with higher grades. That too was achieved.

The visitor asked the children: When elders ask you to study, you offer numerous protests. How come you study and score well when there is a resolution in the Neighbourhood Parliments of Children? Their astonishing reply: That is because it is your advice! Here it is our resolution.

In certain villages the members of the Neighbourhood Parliments of Children prepare a Schedule of Studies for themselves allotting suitable time for various subjects, depending upon level of difficulty of the subject. They get these schedules approved by their parents before they post them in a visible place at home and make sure that they observe them strictly.

Study and daily schedule are also considered by children as part of a contract between them their parents. Therefore, the parents too are boundstrictly by the schedule.

Neighbourhood Parliments of Children may arrange tuition for the weaker students, besides instructing the cleverer children to help their friends who are weak in certain subjects.

As a general rule, the sessions of the Neighbourhood Parliments of Children last for an hour or thereabout.

But in Vidhura in Kerala, children used to meet for three hours every week.

In order to make their children compete among themselves and score high marks, the parents in Vidhura vie with each other to get their children the best after class tuitions. Therefore, the parents were reluctant to send their children to the Parliament Sessions which according to them robbed the children of precious study time.

After witnessing character formation, development of personal skills, growth of a sense of responsibility and an increased interest in learning which the children who attended the parliament exhibited, the parents had a change of heart. They began pleading that their children too be included in the parliament.

The Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children organize training programmes and cultural programmes in order to develop the talents and skills children.

Besides, discussions on various topics during the sessions help the children acquire a fund of general knowledge. Since almost everyone is entrusted with one responsibility or another, each makes sure that one’s role is carried out with care. Such sense of responsibility results in the growth of a confident personality in them.

Self-confidence and leadership are essential for life, especially when hunting for a job. The rise and progress in social life is directly proportionate to the self-confidence and leadership qualities of a child. These do not come about miraculously overnight. Nor are they achieved by academic qualifications alone.

In order to acquire the qualities of self-confidence and leadership, one needs to interact with the larger society. An additional fund of general knowledge would go a long way in forming oneself into a self-confident and inspiring leader. Our children of today unfortunately lack adequate forums for developing personal qualities.

The Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children provide children with forums they could use to acquire self-development. They discuss problems and issues when they gather together. While doing so, they get their notions clarified. They take decisions which they execute meticulously. They get to interact with elders and people of importance. They get opportunities to take part in training and formation programmes. They get to visit places and learn. These experiences are formative in nature.

The visitors from other parts of India and abroad are often taken up at the confident leadership exhibited by members of the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children.

Those who possess ideas and dreams are not always good at articulating them. They search for words; they often lack coherence. Their public presentation may lack attractive formulations and logic. The traditional stage-fright haunts most people. As a result they are unable to face a crowd and sometimes, even a small group of peers. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for each to learn the art of public speaking and the use of techniques of communication.

The children in Neighbourhood Parliaments are put in a situation where they get to develop with ease their talents in communication, in writing, singing and acting.

Recently an industrialist stated:

When we employ people in our industries, we do not look merely at their mark sheet or academic degrees. A candidate might well have scored high marks and may possess talents and skills. But if the person does not have the ability to work in a team, it will affect the enterprise adversely. Therefore, while selecting candidates, we also pay attention to aspects like ability to work in and as a team, personality traits, leadership capabilities, etc.

Our educational institutions do not impart sufficient training in team work. But Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children give the members practical training in team work.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child has the following: Children have the right to participate in decision-making processes that may be relevant in their lives and to influence decisions taken in their regard -- within the family, the school or the community (Article 12).

Similarly it is also said that children should play their part in governance. But participation by children and governance by children cannot be a reality unless the children have adequate and viable forums where they could exercise participation and governance. Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children provide these forums.

These days, interested individuals all over the world are discussing in depth the concept of formation through action. The concept cannot deliver results in a vacuum. It too needs suitable forums, which The Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children provide. Since Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children include all the children, these opportunities do find a way to reach them all.

Since the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children take place in their own neighbourhoods it is easy for every child to participate in them. From a small geographical area of a neighbourhood of 30 families, they get to reach out to ever widening levels like that of the Village, Panchayat, Block, District, etc. As children’s ability to participate grows, they can act in gradually expanding wider and wider levels of the parliaments.

Children are vulnerable because they do not have sufficient physical strength. They can be easily deceived and misled by criminals and anti-social elements. They can easily fall prey to various kinds of abuses, violence and other evils like trafficking, separation, and so on.

Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children help to protect children from the above dangers in two ways: First, they conscientise children regarding these dangers and empower them with sufficient knowledge about such dangers and about the ways and means to protect themselves from such dangers. Secondly, together with the Village Child Protection Committee (comprised of the animators of NCPs), Children’s Parliaments ensure that no child in the village finds himself or herself in such precarious situation. They identify children in the above risk situations and arrange to give them protection.

Neighbourhood parliaments, as we said, are territorially organised. The entire world could be organised territorially as Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children. This could be done easily as the entire world is just a stretch of neighbourhoods and one need not take bus to go and organise a neighbourhood.

We also live in a world where with just a click of the button of the cell phone we could talk to someone at the other end of the world. A world of easy communicability and organisability.

Each such neighbourhood parliament is to be inclusive too, i.e., organised in such a way that no child is left out and every child is automatically a member whether active or not.

And these Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children are also small in size that no child could go unnoticed.

Every Neighbourhood Parliament of Children is also to have a child Defence Minister who is to defend the rights of the child.

With such arrangements in place, no child could go unobserved. An effective child safety network by children themselves could automatically be ensured.

Every Neighbourhood Parliament of Children could keep track of children in danger of being trafficked.

Each Neighbourhood Parliament of Children can also keep an eye on children entering newly in any neighbourhood, to ensure no child is brought to its territory for any exploitative purpose.

Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, India, is going for such Child Safety Net under the leadership of the district Collector and with the involvement of non-governmental organisations, panchayat raj institutions and the concerned government departments.

As these Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children are to be federated at various levels beginning from that of the village and reach up to that of the entire world, we could have even a global safety network for children and by children.

  1. Neighbourhood Parliments of Children will help children to succeed in life.

  2. Their involvement in Neighbourhood Parliments of Children can go a long way in bringing about self-discipline and self correction in Children.

  3. Neighbourhood Parliments of Children help them study systematically.

  4. Neighbourhood Parliments of Children help towards character formation and development of skills.

  5. Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children help creating leadership qualities and self-confidence in Children.

  6. The Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children are seen to empower the members to articulate and express their ideas in public.

  7. Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children help the children to work in cooperation with one another.

  8. Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children provide opportunities for participation.

  9. Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children teach children to protect their rights as well as themselves from all kinds of abuses and violations.

  10. Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children serve to create a safety net for monitoring children in difficult situations such as runaway children, missing children, trafficked children, etc.


Contact Information

Neighbourhood Community Network,

Montfort Social Institute (MSI),

Church Colony Road, Montfort Nagar, Church Colony, Uppal, Hyderabad, Telangana 500039, India.

Phone: +91 4652 278223
Mob: +91 94426 48224
E-mail: ncnworld2000@yahoo.com
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