August 11, 2005

NEWS: Child reporters tackle development issues in Orissa (INDIA)

Child reporters tackle development issues in Orissa

A new project launched in Orissa ropes in children to raise awareness about issues related to poverty among tribals


Ankurodgam (regeneration), a monthly journal launched by Ankur, a joint initiative of the Koraput district administration and the Orissa branch of the United Nations Children?s Fund (Unicef), raises issues pertaining to drinking water shortages, the lack of roads, and the absence of doctors in hospitals and teachers at schools. The uniqueness of the eight-page magazine is that it is written by children, mostly tribals, about the problems they face in their villages.

Ankurodgam started out with 100 reporters who went about spreading awareness among school children about development taking place in their villages; about infant deaths, sanitation, health, hygiene, education and other related issues. The children, all studying in classes III to VII and mostly tribals from 10 villages in Dasmantpur and Pottangi blocks in Orissa, were given training to become cub reporters.

?These child reporters are a force to reckon with. The project aims to have 10 child reporters from each of the 170 gram panchayats in Koraput, with a dedicated cadre of 1,700,? says Lalatendu Acharya, communications officer, Unicef. Armed with a signed badge from the collector, giving them access to any government office, the reporters act as monitors of the various development programmes initiated by the government in the region.

?The government planted saplings in our village but they did not survive as they were planted towards the end of the monsoon,? says Chinmayi Subudhi in his report. Another piece in the current issue of Ankurodgam talks about the failure of the education system. ?Our village has a large number of children. But half of them are not going to school. Their parents make them graze cattle. The children who refuse are beaten up,? writes Kumar Muduli, a child reporter from upper primary school in the village of Murkar.

The project hopes to cover 4,605 habitations and revenue villages in Koraput by 2007. Each village will have four Ankur volunteers (two boys and two girls) who will be the driving force behind the villages? development. Village-based plans have been drawn up in 16 villages, eight each in Dasmantpur and Pottangi blocks.

Source: The Hindu, July 12, 2005

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