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The campaign, which will reach out to 900 schools, was launched by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu on Monday. Photo: Mint
The campaign, which will reach out to 900 schools, was launched by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu on Monday. Photo: Mint

Bringing legal literacy to Delhi government schools

Programme seeks to educate students on the legal aspects of gender equality, domestic violence,sexualoffences

New Delhi: Taking a leaf from the so-called good-touch, bad-touch way of teaching young children the concept of sexual abuse, the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) has launched legal literacy clubs in government schools that will educate high school students on the legal aspects of issues such as gender equality, sexual harassment, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, and sexual offences.

The campaign, which will reach out to 900 schools, was launched by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu on Monday.

The legal literacy clubs will work in the context of “the complex social reality" of our times, the Chief Justice said, and this makes it “important that we go beyond telling them (young people) what the law is" and instead use an “interactive methodology".

The methodology developed by DSLSA goes beyond “telling (young) people what their rights and obligations are and gets them to reflect on their experiences," he added.

Such knowledge, especially when it deals with less understood laws such as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) is important and relevant, said National Law University, Delhi’s (NLUD) research associate, Neha Singhal, who has ealier worked with the Juvenile Justice Board.

The legal literacy clubs will educate schoolchildren on what constitutes a prohibited sexual activity, how to understand when physical sexual advance is being made, and when and how to report such offences.

Judge T.S. Thakur, who is executive chairman for the National Legal Services Authority, said such literacy clubs will further the cause of ensuring access to justice to all sections of society and spreading legal education and awareness.

The schools campaign will also focus on traffic laws—which also see significant violations by minors.

The idea behind the initiative is also to ensure that young people who could otherwise become offenders are identified and re-engaged in a constructive environment—important in a context where the number of minors commiting offences is on the rise.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 31,725 juveniles were found to have violated laws in 2013, a 13.6% increase over 2012. The most increase in the incidence of crimes committed by juveniles was in various categories of sexual abuse.

Discussing the correlation between dropout rates and the likely increase in juveniles becoming anti-social, S.S. Rathi, officer on special duty for DSLSA said that the move will also involve engaging with students who have dropped out of school and bring them back. With a set of volunteers, DSLSA aims to interact with parents of such students as well as the students themselves to ensure their return to schools.

DSLSA aims at eventually expanding its literacy clubs to government-aided schools, private schools and colleges. 

monalisa@livemint.com

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