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Include playgrounds and parks in master plan, students demand
The Face To Face program is being organised for the past 5 years to enable these 'Little Citizens' to explore and experience the possibility of bringing social transformation through policy interventions.

THIS YEAR COVA-ICAN organised a Face To Face Program with Little Citizens on November 10 from 10.30 am to 12.30 pm at Moghal Function Hall, Engine Bowli, Jahanuma Road, Hyderabad.

50 Students from different schools of the old city areas of Hyderabad participated in the program and drew attention of the Panel of policy makers and officials to lack of facilities in schools and gaps in proper implementation of programs like RTE, ban on polythene and issues relating to parks and playgrounds.

The Little Citizens boldly interacted with panelists viz. Ms. Ayesha Rubina, educationist and co-option member for GHMC, Prof. Nazeer Ahmed, state academic monitoring officer, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Mr. Venkata Ramana, AMOH, GHMC.

On the issue of parks and playgrounds, the students informed the panel that they are being misused for a variety of purposes; garbage is being dumped and many do not have facilities of coaches and proper play material. Further, the students brought to the notice of the panelists that while the recommended norm for open and recreational spaces in cities and towns is 10- 12 sq. meters per person, the area for playgrounds being provided by GHMC is just 0.038 sq. yard per person. When buildings are acquired and demolished for widening of roads as part of the City Master Plan, the students wanted to know why building cannot be acquired and demolished as part of a Master Plan for enough space for parks and playgrounds.

On the theme of implementation of RTE, the participants raised the issues of sub standard infrastructure in schools, lack of application by teachers leading to poor results in government schools, problems with the mid-day meal scheme and wanted to know how the government would bring about all round improvements by April 2013 as required by the RTE Act. 

Bringing up the continued use of plastic bags in Hyderabad despite ban on their use imposed by GHMC from 1st July 2011, the students suggested special squads to raid all shops and establishment using plastic bags, sealing of manufacturing units and fines for members of the public also for using plastic bags.

Prof. Nazeer Ahmed responding to the students appreciated the initiative and said that such opportunities for children to express themselves were not available in his childhood. He said all stake holders, the teachers, parents, children and school management committees that are formed to address the issues and problems are accountable to ensure quality of education in government schools. He assured that he would take all the issues raised in the program to concerned authorities and ensure that they are redressed.  We collectively have to work together to see that RTE Act is implemented in right earnest.

Speaking on the issues on parks and gardens, Ms. Ayesha Rubina said that the subject is close to her heart. Playgrounds are available in the old city but need to be streamlined by equipping with requisites and coaches. She said that she herself surveyed some areas where people with habitation of 35,000 families were not having any park. She initiated action and got a park sanctioned. She appealed to the children to submit their representation to her on all the issues raised and assured she will raise them with appropriate authorities for redress.

Mr. Venkat Ramana informed the children that polythene less than 40 micron thickness is banned and a fine of Rs.2500/- is imposed on traders and Rs. 200 on consumers for using such plastic bags. Ms. Ayesha Rubina informed that GHMC is working for complete stoppage of manufacturing of thin polythene bags and some manufacturing companies have been closed down.

The panelists distributed participation certificates among the students. Dr. Mazher Hussain, Executive Director, COVA conducted the proceedings and thanked the panelists for sparing their valuable time, encouraging students and making this event a success.

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