HOW TO START NEIGHBOURHOOD PARLIAMENTS OF CHILDREN?

Suppose you are entering a village and want to start Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children (NPC). How will you go about?

There are various approaches. One is to organise an entire village or a panchayat together as Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children. Another approach is to choose one particular neighbourhood first and concentrate your attention there and then gradually to start one by one other Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children.

 

The First Approach: Organising the Entire Village/Panchayat as NPCs


  1. Meet the Panchayat President and explain the concept of the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children and seek his/her opinion and advice.

  2. With the assistance of the Panchayat President meet other members of the Panchayat Committee.

  3. Similarly meet other important personalities and leaders such as members of NGOs, social workers, social service institutions, religious heads, school headmasters/headmistresses and the like.

  4. Convene a meeting of all such persons. The invitation could be in the name of the Panchayat President.

  5. The Panchayat President or a VIP could preside over the meeting.

  6. Narrate your experiences regarding the following.

    • What the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children achieved in other villages;

    • How the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children helped children to develop their sense of responsibility and leadership qualities;

    • How Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children helped the children make improvement in their studies; and so on.

  7. If possible make use of Power Point Presentations or slide/video shows on Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children.

  8. Explain how the meetings of Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children are conducted.

  9. Ask for a team of volunteers to oversee the preparations for starting Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children. It is better that the team has office bearers like President, Secretary and so on.

  10. Draw up a map of the village with the help of the team. Demarcate the neighbourhoods on this map.

  11. Please keep the following criteria while demarcating the neighbourhoods.

    • No family may be left out.

    • Only the families within the boundaries of the neighbourhood should be included.

    • Each neighbourhood should contain around 30 families. Try as much as possible that the number of families in a neighbourhood does not go below 15 and above 45.

    • If there is a Self Help Group (SHG) working in the area, it is better that the whole SHG be included in the same neighbourhood.

    • If there are two adjacent SHGs contain 20 families each they can be organized as one single neighbourhood of 40 families.

  12. While making the map and demarcation, the team would do well to take a walk through the village.

  13. Each panchayat is to have a Village Watchdog Committee (VWC) or a similar structure meant for the protection of children. So too each school may have a Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). The members of these structures could be included in the volunteers’ team.

  14. The next step is to meet the people directly. Visit the families of the village. While visiting, explain the concept and invite them for a meeting in the neighbourhood. Take special care to ensure that parents and youth are particularly invited.

  15. You can repeat the success stories of Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children during the meeting.

    Ask them to suggest one or two persons to serve as animators of the Children’s Parliament in the neighbourhood.

  16. The animators elected/chosen can be given training in a common place in the village/panchayat on how to conduct the sessions of the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children.

  17. Together with the animators the first meeting of Children’s Parliament can be planned and a programme may be drawn up accordingly.

  18. Get the members of the Neighbourhood Parliament of Children to elect systematically the neighbourhood child ministers for different concerns. Follow sociocratic method of election as given in page (page …). Not all the ministers need to be elected on the same day. It could be a gradual process.

  19. After electing the required number of ministers, a swearing in ceremony may be organized. Special guests can be invited for the swearing-in-ceremony.

  20. As a general rule the sessions of the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children take place in the neighbourhood itself, i.e., in the courtyard of a house, under a tree, veranda of a house or a common building.

  21. Please note that none of the above given guidelines can be followed exactly in all circumstances. Neither should one become rigid in dealing with human persons and their situations. What is important is prudence. A desire to learn from one’s own experience and the experience of others will help in avoiding embarrassing situations. The above guidelines are drawn from the experiences of successes and failures of innumerable social workers and social scientists in the field of Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children in Tamil Nadu.

 

Second Approach: Forming Neighbourhood Parliments of Chlildren One by One


In some places it may not be possible to form all the neighbourhood children’s parliaments in a village/panchayat in one go.

In such circumstances, Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children can be formed one after the other.

Here again each neighbourhood has to be demarcated on a map as explained above.

It will be helpful here too, to visit the families and enlist their help.

As mentioned earlier, each neighbourhood contains not less than 15 and not more than 45 families. Other precautions like including all the families of SHG in one unit or neighbourhood and making VWC members as partners in your venture, etc, have to be followed.

When a Neighbourhood Parliament of Children starts functioning and its effects are talked about, its members themselves will approach the other neighbourhoods and help them start the Children’s Parliaments. Or things can happen the other way round. Witnessing the success of their friends, the children of other neighbourhoods might come to seek their help.

Even if we start the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children one by one, the selection of animators, sociocratic elections and swearing-in-ceremonies, etc, are needed.

 

Forming Village Level Children’s Parliaments


After the election of ministers of Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children in a given village, the Village Parliament of Children can be formed.

A minimum of two representatives of Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children will become members of the Village Parliament of Children (VPC). If the number of the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children is less then the number of representatives from each Neighbourhood Parliament of Children could be more.

In any case the total number may not exceed 30, so that it is conducive for everyone to participate actively.

In VPCs too, sociocratic method of election is to be used for choosing ministers for various concerns.

Swearing-in-ceremony will take place in VPCs also. Special guests can be invited to administer the oath of office.

The sessions of the VPCs can be held in a school campus or the premises of say, a worshipping place or some other common place.

Village Parliaments of Children will meet once a month.

 

Team of Animators at Village Level


The animators of the NPCs form themselves as a team of animators at village level. They can also be the members of the Child Protection Committee (CPC) of the village.

The members of CPC should have completed 18 years of age. People with children’s welfare uppermost in their minds like mothers and grandfathers may volunteer themselves to be animators. The office bearers of CPC also may be elected through sociocratic method.

The animators should meet at regular intervals to develop their animation/leadership skills and to plan together. Special training programmes could be arranged for them.

 

At Other Levels


Representatives of VPCs will form the Panchayat Parliaments of Children (PPC).

Similarly, animators teams at village level can be federated as a Panchayat Team of Animators.

Each panchayat may have a watchdog committee. The Panchayat Team of Animators could be integrated with that. PPCs and Panchayat Team of Animators are to meet quarterly.

In the same manner the children’s parliaments, animators’ teams can be federated at block, district and state levels.

Contact Information

8A/ 1A Arul Nagar,

Paalpannai Road,

Nagercoil-629001,

Kanyakumari District,

Tamilnadu, India.

Phone: +91 4652 278223
Mob: +91 94426 48224
E-mail: ncnworld2000@yahoo.com
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