17th international child rights day: Unions in schools a growing cause for worry

Kathmandu, November 19:

Even though the UN agencies and human right activists have been expressing concern over the forceful use of children for political interests, the expansion of students’ unions in the schools have increased drastically, undermining the rights of children. The student bodies have tried to justify their action by stating that it was for the students’ benefit, as they would get a chance to know about their fundamental rights.

As the students’ wing of political parties are speeding up their movement of forming units in the schools to educate school students about the present political scenario, there is a huge hue and cry from almost all the sectors opposing their activities.

As a part of their expansion programme, the All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union -Revolutionary (ANNISU-R) has reached almost all the government schools in the Valley.

The expansion of the students’ wing in schools and involving children below 18 years into party politics is a violation of children’s rights, said Deepak Sapkota executive director of Centre Child Welfare Board. Sapkota said: “These kinds of activities would affect their right to pursue education. Children can be educated about their rights through other creative and non-political activities.” The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was adopted 17 years ago on November 20, states that anyone below 18 years of age is a child and has the right to special care and protection.

Students of Patan High School have alone attended the mass assemblies in the Valley six times with the permission of their school head master since June 5. A 17-year-old Kiran Rajbanshi, a class ten student of Patan High School and president of the ANNISU-R, said his affinity towards ANNISU-R grew after attending Janabadi Sikshya.

Ishwore Rupakheti, a member of ANNISU-R Kathmandu District Committee, said the unions are formed to educate them about their rights. Mohan Laxmi Shakya, headmistress of Madan Memorial Girls High School, blamed the parents and guardians for the increasing number of forceful students’ participation in the mass rallies as the parents were least bothered about such activities.