At a time when the International Human Rights Day was being celebrated with much excitement across the world, a silent story of change was being scripted in the community hall of Panchayat Samiti building of a small town Nimbaheda in Chittorgarh district of Rajasthan.
The chairs placed around the huge round table of the meeting hall equipped with mics, mostly occupied by government officials, had rural kids sitting on them who were using projector screens and mics to highlight current challenges plaguing their villages in front of district collector Tarachand Meena. They discussed issues of child marriage, Ghoonghat Pratha and casteism dominating the rural belt.
In the novel exercise, the children, who had come from far-off rural villages, acted as citizen journalists and openly spoke of several issues including gender discrimination. One of the children asked as to why does a female kill another just for the greed of a son.
A student Tanu Anjana, a class X student asked, "How can a girl fly a plane by remaining confined within the ghooghat limits. Can she ever think of running a government by becoming an officer?.
Another student Meghna Kumawat spoke on New India and asked when the nation has won the battle against the Sati practice, why are evils of dowry, gender discrimination and casteism still plaguing it.
Many other students came up with burning issues of their villages in a workshop, being organised by an NGO Saksham Sanchar Foundation, which is training rural kids in media stream. The workshop was organised in collaboration with Akshaypatra, which has been serving two lakh students in Rajasthan under mid-day meal scheme.
Addressing these kids as the chief guests, the District collector said: "Media is the fourth pillar of democracy and hence plays a big role in nation building. I am glad to see these bubbling students coming out clear in their thoughts acting as citizen journalists to discuss the challenges and bringing out solutions for the same."
He called the students to work for their all-round development as sole education is not enough for utmost success.
"I have seen many intelligent students who could not crack competitive exams as they were only focussing on studies. Also those who cracked these exams are unable to do well in their efforts as they are not all-rounders," he said.
The district collector was all praises for the students who spoke on current challenges and said that such workshops should be expanded to other backward areas too so that the students there can benefit and emerge as citizen journalists.
Speaking on the occasion, Deepak Soni from Akshaypatra said: "We have seen many students get deprived of education due to hunger. We aim to ensure that no student gets dropped out due to hunger and hence are serving 22 lakh students with food under mid-day meal in India. In Rajasthan, we have 10 branches which serve food to two lakh students."
The training was imparted by Murari Gupta from Doordarshan and vote of thanks was proposed by Professor Nimisha Gaur.
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