Development of Odisha State Plan of Action for Children (SPAC)

Bhubaneswar, March 8: The National Policy for Children (NPC), 2013 has adhered to the Constitutional mandate and guiding principles of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) by identifying the rights of children under the key priority areas of survival, development, protection and participation. Consequent upon the policy, the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India has recently developed the National Plan of Action for Children (NPAC), 2016 to provide a road map with actionable strategies to meet the stated policy objectives under the priority areas of survival, development, protection and participation of children. The Government of Odisha is also keen on developing the State Plan of Action for its Children.

cystIn this context, a one-day multi-stakeholders Consultation was organized in partnership with Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Odisha and UNICEF, Odisha Office on 3rd March, 2017 at CYSD-DRTC, Bhubaneswar including dignitaries and resource persons from Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (OSCPCR), Odisha Labour commission, Civil Society Organisations, INGOs, donor agencies and academia. At the outset, Shri P. K. Sahoo, Chairman, CYSD shared the importance of preparing the State Plan of Action for Children (SPAC) for Odisha State in the perspective of UNCRC, NPC, NPAC, SDGs in general and particularly the child related goals and indicators reflected in the Odisha Vision 2036. Ms Yumi Bae, Chief, UNICEF, Odisha said this SPAC would be the reference document for next five years for reviewing and monitoring the targets towards fulfilling the obligations and mandates for the children in Odisha; and also contribute towards achieving UNICEF’s India Programme goals for children, 2022. Smt. Kasturi Mohapatra, Chairperson, OSCPCR in her address reiterated that Odisha needs to have a State Policy for Children and and adequate resource allocation be made to meet the policy priorities. While preparing the SPAC (2017-22), there is a need for review of earlier SPAC (2009-12) and setting vision for 2022, she added. Shri Jagadananda, former State Information Commissioner, Odisha and Mentor & Co-founder, CYSD focused on setting the non-negotiable targets and indicators with concrete plan of action reflecting the timeline and responsibilities for effective implementation and monitoring of the plan. Shri P. K. Tripathy, Asst. Labour Commissioner and Dr. B. B. Acharya, Technical Consultant, Labour Commission, Odisha shared the initiatives taken up by the Commission to address the issues relating to child labour in the State. Further, the Commission is also in the process of conducting Child Labour Survey in the State with the support of National Law University, Odisha, they added.

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The participants actively participated in the consultation and shared their considered views for the cause of the children which can be carefully examined and reflected in Odisha SPAC. They also discussed in four different groups in the areas like: Survival, Development, Protection and Participation and the key issues along with suggestions emerged from respective groups were shared in the consultation. Shri Kalyan Kumar Rath, Deputy Secretary, Dept. of Women & Child Development while appreciating the genuine issues and concerns relating to children and the possible suggestions shared by different groups also shared the expectation of the Department that, the SPAC should be very precise and practical and clearly articulate who will do what with specified timeframe. An online monitoring mechanism may also be thought of for effective implementation of SPAC and necessary follow-up, he added.

Further, a one-day Consultation with Children was also organized in partnership with Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Odisha and UNICEF, Odisha Office on 28 February, 2017 at CYSD-DRTC, Bhubaneswar. Varied groups of children and adolescents including children with special needs, migrant children, out of school children, girls, street children, urban Children, child labours, homeless children, orphans, children from ST/SC communities etc. from different parts of the State discussed their issues and concerns along with suggestions in groups and presented in the forum. The key issues, concerns and suggestions in terms of survival, protection, development and participation of children have been appropriately captured and will be carefully examined while preparing the SPAC for Odisha State. Most of the children expressed that, this is for the first time they are participating in a planning process and their voices are heard. They also shared their concern regarding often not being heard and properly dealt with in the family, community, school, college and also in different institutions and forums. The key suggestions shared by the children cluster around awareness raising of both the duty bearers and children; development and effective functioning of child-friendly infrastructure (also from gender and disability perspective); institutional strengthening; effective implementation of rules, regulations and laws; stringent monitoring at different levels involving CBOs and CSOs; and encouraging children’s participation in programme planning, implementation and monitoring.

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