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Comics Power

Children take help of comics to express their views

Comics, though apparently childish, are a highly powerful social medium, the latent qualities of which are being exploited by activists across other parts of the country. A similar venture called the Young Reporters had been launched in Dibrugarh last year. Following its successful launch, the Young Reporters initiative has been successfully replicated in Kamrup district by Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust in association with Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti and UNICEF Assam.

Under the programme, children of 20 schools in Kamrup district have been oriented on child rights and grassroots comics to highlight their issues and concerns and exercise their right to participation. Subsequently, children have developed comics on many issues concerning them and put them on public display at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra. The objective is to highlight children’s issues and voices, and generate a discussion amongst peers and community, with a view to bringing about a change in attitudes and practices as well as programmes and services for children.

Dr (Capt.) Suchitra Kakoty, Chairperson of the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR), inaugurated an exhibition of comics drawn by school children at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra here last Tuesday. The comics are also being exhibited at the Regional Science Centre. Appreciating the initiative, Dr Kakoty, urged the society to provide them a congenial atmosphere to develop their skills and potential. Stating that ASCPCR would always act as a watchdog for any violation of child rights, she urged the society to be vigilant and help prevent child abuse. She also
urged everyone to respect a child’s individuality and personality.

Mr Kushal Bora, Deputy Secretary, Department of Secondary Education, Govt. of Assam, said comics play a crucial role in the lives of children and cast a permanent influence till they become adults. He appreciated the Young Reporters programme and thanked the KGNMT for their support to young minds in helping develop their skills. He urged the society to create a conducive atmosphere where “young minds can blossom without any fear”.

Ms Nipurnh Gupta, Communications Officer, UNICEF Assam, said, “Through simple yet insightful comics, they have drawn attention to the lack of roads and health services in their villages, the lack of toilets, drinking water, sports in schools, the ill-effect of child labour, child marriage, alcoholism, corporal punishment and other issues.” She said that children have a right to be heard and it is now up to the duty-bearers – parents, teachers, government, civil society and media – to pay heed to children’s voices and take action to ensure children can enjoy their rights to survival, development, protection and participation. She emphasised that children have immense potential and need to be encouraged, guided and supported to participate meaningfully in their own and community’s development.

Earlier, two young reporters – Jakir Hussain, 14, and Reema Chakraborty, 14, shared their experiences of the Young Reporters programme with the dignitaries and thanked the organisations concerned for having provided them with a platform to get their voices heard.The children also presented a small skit wherein they highlighted the importance of education for young girls on the occasion. A copy of “Mukta Akaash”, a newsletter brought out by young reporters on children’s issues, was also shared with everyone present.

The Children’s Comics Exhibition also commemorated the 21st anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC) which is celebrated globally and nationally as the Universal Child Rights Day on 20th November.