On the occasion of World Literacy Day, Child Rights and You (CRY), organised an exhibition of postcards as part of their ‘My School’ initiative.
“We gave blank postcards to about 1,000 children from government schools across Maharashtra and Gujarat. They were asked to pictorially express what they expect from their schools,” says Priya Zutshi, senior manager of media advocacy, CRY. “We realised that when the children’s Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act was implemented, the voices of children themselves, were missing. This initiative hopes to address their needs and expectations from the system.”
On the occasion, CRY displayed the postcards at CST station. They plan to exhibit them at larger platforms such as the Kala Ghoda and Bandra festivals. However, the postcards will not be on sale. “These are original artworks. The idea is that if you come to the exhibition, we will give you a postcard for you to to express your thoughts too,” says Zutshi.
The My School initiative has been instrumental in bringing some pressing issues to the fore.
“Children have written about being made to pay fees, when the Act clearly states that education is free till the seventh standard,” says Zutshi. Even the BMC’s promise to provide 27 free items to the children has been flouted by some schools. The items include basic necessities like books, bags and water bottles.
Lack of basic infrastructure has also been highlighted in the children’s postcards. Complaints point at unsafe school buildings, contaminated drinking water and food, lack of gender-specific toilets and underqualified teachers, who beat students.
CRY hopes that using World Literacy Day as a platform, they can influence the implementation agencies to provide children with the facilities that they have been promised, but not been given.