Having their say
in the State Budget
Nearly 200 children from the streets and slums of
Kolkata, and from villages in other parts of West Bengal came together in a State level Child Rights
Assembly organized by World Vision India to assess how they and their issues are prioritized by the
Government. And as West Bengal looked forward to the new Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s first
budget, these children voiced their expectations of it.
Like in India,
children form more than 40% of the population of West Bengal and they, like many of them in the
their neighboring States, are not doing any better.
• 44% of children are malnourished. Despite
this, only 38% of children under 6 years receive any kind of services from Anganwadi
• 36% of
children are not fully immunized; 61% of children are anemic.
• One in every four children in the age group
of 15-19 has already begun childbearing
• Less than 70% of boys and girls are in school, according to the
National Family Health Survey 3
• The latest ASER report says, only 50% of schools have usable
toilets, while more than 70% of schools do not have separate toilets for girls. Close to 40% of the
schools have no library.
• More than 65% of the schools do not meet Pupil Teacher Ratio Norm as
per the Right To Education Act
Children gathered here wanted a change in
this scenario. Any policy commitment becomes a reality when supported by adequate budget. At the
country level, children got only 4.8% of share in the total budget allocation. An analysis by HAQ
and SPAN (Kolkata) stated that children’s share in the 2010-11 West Bengal State budget was
Some of them, like Arti Roy from Kolkata, were especially appreciative
of the initiatives taken by the Chief Minister to address infant deaths in different parts of rural
West Bengal. At the same time, other voices emerged. “We need more money for Mid Day Meals and ICDS”
said Yash Roy, a class X student from Kolkata.
Apart from that, the
• More allocation for protection measures of children. Especially to
expand the 1098 child helpline services, which is very useful
• More protection measures for girl children
and special budget for it
• Schemes for children to continue without the funds being diverted to
• A special
transport facility for school children in rural areas especially when they are writing their
The main objective of this state assembly organized by World Vision India was to
review state and national government performance in implementing child rights through a
child-friendly Score Card approach. Over the next two days, the children evaluated and scored the
delivery of their rights. Out of this exercise, the children formulated a manifesto, which was a
true representation of their voice and also a report highlighting the status of their rights in the
fields of Health, Education, Protection and Participation at the state and national levels and
present it at a press conference on 22nd March 2012.