Kolkata: To make children understand what rights they are entitled to, West Bengal's child rights panel wants the students to be taught about them as part of the school curriculum.
Ashokendu Sengupta, chairperson of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said they will recommend the state government to include various laws related to right to education and protection from sexual abuse a part of the school syllabus.
"We do not want to put any extra load on the children but there should be at least one page somewhere in their book which tells them about their rights in a simple language. This will increase awareness. Only we know about child rights and laws but they must also know," he told a news agency.
The panel will soon meet the state school syllabus committee to impress upon them the need to include child rights at primary and secondary school level.
Teenager Sikha Patra, who works as a peer leader and educator with child rights NGO Prayasam, said she would never have been aware of her rights as a child had she not been associated with activists.
"My friends don't know what are their rights as a child. Those in English medium schools are aware of these things but not those in Bengali medium ones. Therefore, child rights should be included in the school curriculum," she said.
UNICEF's West Bengal chief Asadur Rahman also supported it saying basic rights about children should be there in the school syllabus.
Rahman said that the Right to Education Act advocates for child-friendly schools where children and their parents are consulted in the institute's planning.
The child panel, which has constituted two sub-committees for studying the issue, said they are selecting parts of the Convention on Rights of The Child (CRC) which can be included in the curriculum.
CRC was adopted by the United Nations' General Assembly in 1989 and serves as a global index on child rights.
Sengupta said that every school should tell the children that whenever they are in distress they can call 1098 - a 24-hour child helpline.
"This is the most important thing. A child should know that when he is in danger he can call this number or can seek help for other children," he said.
They also want the inclusion of Right to Education (RTE) Act, which ensures free and compulsory education for children in the age group of 6-14 years, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 in the syllabus.
"At the school level, they must have literature, posters and other materials to promote child rights," the panel's chairperson said.