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The National Policy for Children, 2013

CHILDLINE India Foundation » DOCUMENTS & REPORTS » Cause Viewpoint » The National Policy for Children, 2013

The National Policy for Children, 2013

On April 18th, 2013 the Union Cabinet approved the National Policy for Children to help in the implementation of programmes and schemes for children all over the country. The policy gives utmost priority to right to life, health and nutrition and also gives importance to development, education, protection and participation.

The Constitution of India guarantees Fundamental Rights to all children in the country and empowers the State to make special provisions for children. To affirm the Government’s commitment to the rights based approach in addressing the continuing and emerging challenges in the situation of children, the Government of India has hereby adopted this Resolution on the National Policy for Children, 2013. Through this policy the State is committed to take affirmative measures – legislative, policy or otherwise – to promote and safeguard the right of all children to live and grow with equity, dignity, security and freedom, to ensure that all children have equal opportunities; and that no custom, tradition, cultural or religious practice is allowed to violate or restrict or prevent children from enjoying their rights.

The National Policy for Children, 2013

Recognises that:

  • a child is any person below the age of eighteen years
  • childhood is an integral part of life with a value of its own
  • children are not a homogenous group and their different needs need different responses, especially the multi-dimensional vulnerabilities experienced by children in different circumstances
  • a long term, sustainable, multi-sectoral, integrated and inclusive approach is necessary for the overall and harmonious development and protection of children

Reaffirms that:

  • every child is unique and a supremely important national asset
  • special measures and affirmative action are required to diminish or eliminate conditions that cause discrimination
  • all children have the right to grow in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding
  • families are to be supported by a strong social safety net in caring for and nurturing their children

Key priorities in the Policy

1) Survival, Health and Nutrition

The right to life, survival, health and nutrition is the right of every child and will receive the highest priority. The Policy ensures equitable access to comprehensive, and essential, preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative health care, of the highest standard, for all children before, during and after birth, and throughout the period of their growth and development. Every child has a right to adequate nutrition and to be safeguarded against hunger, deprivation and malnutrition. The State commits to securing this right for all children through access, provision and promotion of required services and supports for holistic nurturing and wellbeing, keeping in view their individual needs at different stages of their life.

The State shall also take into account improving maternal health care, including antenatal care, safe delivery by skilled health personnel, post natal care and nutritional support. Providing information for making informed choices related to birth and spacing of children will be a priority along with providing adolescents access to information, support and services essential for their health and development. The Policy highlights preventing HIV infections at birth and ensuring infected children receive medical treatment, adequate nutrition and after-care, and are not discriminated against in accessing their rights.

2) Education and Development

Every child has equal right to learning, knowledge and education. The State recognises its responsibility to secure this right for every child, with due regard for special needs, through access, provision and promotion of required environment, information, infrastructure, services and supports, towards the development of the child’s fullest potential.

The State shall take all necessary measures to:

(i) Provide universal and equitable access to quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) of all children below six years of age
(ii) Ensure that every child in the age group of 6-14 years is in school
(iii) Promote affordable and accessible quality education up to the secondary level for all children
(iv) Foster and support inter sectoral networks and linkages to provide vocational training options and enable career counseling and vocational guidance
(v) Ensure that all out of school children are tracked, rescued, rehabilitated and have access to their right to education
(vi) Address discrimination of all forms in schools and foster equal opportunity, treatment and participation
(vii) Prioritise education for disadvantaged groups by creating enabling environment
(viii) Ensure physical safety of the child and provide safe and secure learning environment
(ix) Ensure that all processes of teaching and learning are child friendly
(x) Ensure formulation and practice of pedagogy that engages and delights children

3) Protection

Children have the right to be protected wherever they are. The State shall create a caring, protective and safe environment for all children, to reduce their vulnerability in all situations and to keep them safe at all places, especially public spaces. A safe, secure and protective environment is a precondition for the realization of all other rights of children. The State shall protect all children from all forms of violence and abuse, harm, neglect, stigma, discrimination, deprivation or any other activity that takes undue advantage of them, harms their personhood or affects their development. To secure the rights of children temporarily or permanently deprived of parental care, the State shall endeavour to ensure family and community-based care arrangements guaranteeing quality standards of care and protection.

The State commits to taking special protection measures to secure the rights and entitlements of children in need of special protection, characterised by their specific social, economic and geo-political situations, including their need for rehabilitation and reintegration. The State shall also promote child friendly jurisprudence, enact progressive legislation, build a preventive and responsive child protection system and promote effective enforcement of punitive legislative and administrative measures against all forms of child abuse and neglect.

4) Participation

The State has the primary responsibility to ensure that children are made aware of their rights, and provided with an enabling environment, opportunities and support to develop skills, to form aspirations and express their views in accordance with their age, level of maturity and evolving capacities, so as to enable them to be actively involved in their own development and in all matters concerning and affecting them. The State shall promote and strengthen respect for the views of the child, especially those of the girl child, children with disabilities and of children from minority groups or marginalised communities, within the family; community; schools and institutions; different levels of governance; as well as in judicial and administrative proceedings that concern them. The State shall engage all stakeholders in developing mechanisms for children to share their grievances without fear in all settings; monitor effective implementation of children’s participation through monitorable indicators; develop different models of child participation; and undertake research and documentation of best practices.

5) Advocacy and Partnerships

The policy affirms that the State shall encourage the active involvement and collective action of individuals, families, local communities, non-governmental and civil society organisations, media and private sector including government in securing the rights of the child. The State shall also make planned, coordinated and concerted efforts to raise public awareness on child rights and entitlements among the masses. Along with this all stakeholders are to promote the use of rights-based and equity-focused tools to generate awareness on child rights. This Policy will ensure that children’s best interests and rights are accorded the highest priority in areas of policy, planning, resource allocation, governance, monitoring and evaluation, and children’s voices and views are heard in all matters and actions which impact their lives. The State shall also ensure that service delivery and justice delivery mechanisms and structures are participatory, responsive and child-sensitive, thereby enhancing transparency and ensuring public accountability.

6) Coordination, Action and Monitoring

Addressing the rights and needs of children requires programming across different sectors and integrating their impact on the child in a synergistic way. Community and local governance play a significant role in ensuring the child’s optimum development and social integration. The National Policy states that the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) will be the nodal Ministry for overseeing and coordinating the implementation of this Policy. A National Coordination and Action Group (NCAG) for Children under the Minister in charge of the Ministry of Women and Child Development will monitor the progress with other concerned Ministries as its members. Similar Coordination and Actions Groups will be formed at the State and District level.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights will ensure that the principles of this Policy are respected in all sectors at all levels in formulating laws, policies and programmes affecting children.

7) Research, Documentation and Capacity Building

The implementation of this Policy will be supported by a comprehensive and reliable knowledge base on all aspects of the status and condition of children. Establishing such a knowledge base would be enabled through child focused research and documentation, both quantitative as well as qualitative. A continuous process of indicator-based child impact assessment and evaluation will be developed, and assessment and evaluation will be carried out on the situation of children in the country, which will inform policies and programmes for children. Professional and technical competence and capability in all aspects of programming, managing, working and caring for children at all levels in all sectors will be ensured through appropriate selection and well planned capacity development initiatives. All duty bearers working with children will be sensitised and oriented on child rights and held accountable for their acts of omission and commission.

8) Resource Allocation

To implement this policy efficiently the State has committed to allocate the required financial, material and human resources, and their efficient and effective use, with transparency and accountability.

Guiding Principles

(i) every child has universal, inalienable and indivisible human rights
(ii) the rights of children are interrelated and interdependent, and each one of them is equally important and fundamental to the well-being and dignity of the child
(iii) every child has the right to life, survival, development, education, protection and participation
(iv) right to life, survival and development goes beyond the physical existence of the child and also encompasses the right to identity and nationality
(v) mental, emotional, cognitive, social and cultural development of the child is to be addressed in totality
(vi) all children have equal rights and no child shall be discriminated against on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, class, language, and disability, social, economic or any other status
(vii) the best interest of the child is a primary concern in all decisions and actions affecting the child, whether taken by legislative bodies, courts of law, administrative authorities, public, private, social, religious or cultural institutions
(viii) family or family environment is most conducive for the all-round development of children and they are not to be separated from their parents, except where such separation is necessary in their best interest
(ix) every child has the right to a dignified life, free from exploitation
(x) safety and security of all children is integral to their well-being and children are to be protected from all forms of harm, abuse, neglect, violence, maltreatment and exploitation in all settings including care institutions, schools, hospitals, crèches, families and communities
(xi) children are capable of forming views and must be provided a conducive environment and the opportunity to express their views in any way they are able to communicate, in matters affecting them
(xii) children’s views are to be heard in all matters affecting them, in particular judicial and administrative proceedings and interactions, and their views given due consideration in accordance with their age, maturity and evolving capacities

A comprehensive review of this Policy will be taken up once in five years in consultation with all stakeholders, including children. The Ministry of Women and Child Development will lead the review process.