One-third children don’t feel safe in school all time: Survey (DNA)

Every one in three children in India feels their school is not safe all the time, while citing deficient infrastructure and lack of toilets among their major concerns, according to a survey report.

While children almost universally agree that education is important, a third of respondents in India (28 per cent) said their school is only “sometimes” safe (in line with the global finding of 31 per cent), stated the report conducted by NGO ChildFund Alliance.

Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale today released the survey report which takes into account the views of 6,226 children aged between 10-12 years from across 41 countries including 31 developing nations like India, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Zambia among others.

In developing countries, 21 per cent of the children said being safe at school means school buildings and facilities which are clean, safe and in good repair, with this response being highest among children surveyed in India (58 per cent) followed by Ethiopia (55 per cent) and Bangladesh (54 per cent), the survey, named ‘Small Voices, Big Dreams’, stated.

The children also raised concern over issues including first aid facilities, corporal punishment and bullying, it said.

In India, children defined safety at school as having a clean and safe building, having proper preventive security measures in place, ranging from ‘out of bound’ areas, to protection from strangers and supervision by teachers.

“Ending violence against children is a significant priority of this government. Also, the government is committed to working with other stakeholders to address gender discrimination, school safety and issues under child protection,” Athawale said.

Almost two-thirds of children in developed countries (64 per cent) said education is important because it would allow them to get a good job when they grow up, compared to 40 per cent of children in developing countries, the survey said, adding that 45 per cent of respondents in India said so.

It said 23 per cent of children described feeling safe as not being the target of physical or emotional abuse or violence, with many children referring to corporal punishment and ‘no bullying’.

“It is alarming to know that safety in institutions is a grey area. We can’t lose sight of the fact that every child has the right to learn in a safe environment and a collective intervention is our moral responsibility.

“We want to promote children’s participation in decision-making and our Child-Friendly Accountability framework is a step in this direction,” Neelam Makhijani, National Director of ChildFund India, said.

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