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United Nations and Children of Andhra Pradesh remind legislators of their obligations towards MDGs

© UNICEF / 2009
Release of Q & A report by CM, Speaker, Finance Minister, Chairman of Council and Education & DWC Minister

Hyderabad, 10 February 2009: For the first time in the history of AP assembly, children came face to face with Chief Minister Mr. Y. S. R. Reddy, Speaker Mr. Suresh Reddy, Finance Minister Mr. M. Rassaiah, Chairman Legislative Council Mr. Chakrapani, and Minister for Education and DWCD Mrs. N. Rajayalakshmi with the legislators, to demand that their rights be fulfilled by all political parties.

UNICEF Representative for the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Mr. Michel Saint-Lot, presented the MDG Report card and said, “The MDG Report card for AP clearly shows that tackling malnutrition needs to be prioritized as the state has 10 districts with high malnutrition rates; Nirmal Gram Puruskar (NGP – a national award for total sanitation) villages are going back to open defecation and poor learning levels at the primary school are leading to high dropout rates of children from regular schooling. These are some of the very critical issues which need to be debated and addressed at the policy and implementation level.”

Fifteen year old M. Ashwini of Vijaywada, a class 10 student, appealed to all political leaders, “Let your election manifestoes convey your commitment to Children’s Right. Please think of the silent 41 percent children population in the state because we are the future of AP.”

Ashwini was part of the thirty children from Medak and Vijaywada who were representing voices of children and the NGOs working for children’s issues in AP. She read out the charter of demands to the house, receiving applauds from the legislators in a clear show of support.

The occasion coincided with the release of the report on the Questions and Answers sessions of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Council 2007-08 and the Millennium Development Goals Report Card for Andhra Pradesh by United Nations. This was organized under the aegis of the Knowledge Partnership between Andhra Pradesh State Legislative Assembly and United Nations in India.

© UNICEF / 2009
M Ashwini reading out children's demands as CM looks on

The Q & A report clearly showed that children’s issues are yet to occupy significant time in political discussion. Only 4.5 percent of the total questions raised in the assembly were related to children’s issues whereas 7.68 percent of questions in the council concerned children.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, UNICEF Representative for the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Mr. Michel Saint-Lot, presented the MDG Report card and said, “The MDG Report card for AP clearly shows that tackling malnutrition needs to be prioritized as the state has 10 districts with high malnutrition rates; Nirmal Gram Puruskar (NGP – a national award for total sanitation) villages are going back to open defecation and poor learning levels at the primary school are leading to high dropout rates of children from regular schooling. These are some of the very critical issues which need to be debated and addressed at the policy and implementation level.”

The occasion also witnessed the felicitation of the ten Legislators and ten council members with a presentation of the ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ from the United Nations Country Representatives office. As recognition of their efforts in raising questions pertaining to children’s welfare they were referred to as “Child Friendly Legislators” by the children and UNICEF.

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