A controversy erupted recently after the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) recommended the Delhi government Suspension of her flagship program “Desh ke Mentor” Until “the time when all child safety gaps are fixed.” On Friday, Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Prime Minister Manish Sisodia hit back, claiming that the move was a “plot by the BJP” to impede his education initiatives.
What is the Desh ke Mentor Program?
The program was launched in October 2021 and aims to connect students in grades nine through twelve with volunteer mentors. People between the ages of 18 and 35 can sign up to be mentors through an app created by a team at Delhi Technological University and will be linked with students based on common interests. Counseling includes regular phone calls for at least two months, which can optionally be made for a further four months. The idea is for young mentors to guide students through higher education and career options, prepare for higher education entrance exams, and deal with the stress of it all. According to Sisodia, 44,000 people have signed up as mentors so far and are working with 1.76 lakh children.
How is a person selected to be a mentor?
The registration process is done on the Desh ke Mentor app. The volunteer must fill in information about himself such as his date of birth, educational qualifications, profession, organization with which he works, etc. However, it is optional for them to upload any proof of identity. In the application, the candidate must accept an undertaking that states the following, “I hereby declare that all information I have provided is correct to the best of my knowledge and that I have never held (or been involved in) any activities related to violating the rights of children.”
Next, they have to complete a brief “psychometric test” which involves candidates evaluating whether or not they agree with statements such as “I am willing to put in a great deal of effort to excel in my career,” and women should be treated equally in our society.” I believe Lying is justified when I can take advantage of it.”
Once registration is complete, the mentor is associated with a group of children of the same gender whose interests align with theirs. Students must obtain parental consent before they can become part of the program.
What concerns has NCPCR raised regarding this process?
There are five main points that the National Prevention Council raised concerns about the program:
I. She stated that appointing a mentor of the same sex does not necessarily guarantee their safety from abuse.
Secondly. She also expressed concern about the police’s failure to verify mentors.
Third. On the psychometric test, I asked, “Is this psychometric test a complete (sic) assessment of the evidence for a person in terms of the potential threat to any child? Has this psychometric test been analyzed/checked/checked by professional practicing experts? Can this psychometric test identify a craving? Children or potential pedophiles?”
Fourthly. She also stated that limiting interactions to phone calls also does not guarantee the safety of children because “crimes related to children can be initiated through phone calls as well.”
5. It has stated that while having parental consent is a prerequisite, “the responsibility and accountability to prevent children from such a situation rests with the management. Parental consent cannot be used as a cushion in the event of any untoward incident.”
How has the Delhi government responded?
The program has not been paused yet. Sisodia said on Friday: “The BJP, which was panicked by this programme, tried to put an end to it with a conspiracy. The BJP used NCPCR to issue a directive that the Government of Delhi put an end to this programme… The BJP is always worried if it is children The next generation is educated, how are we going to trap them in the darkness of our iniquities? How do we affect them? How are we going to keep them entangled in collective battles? They are also afraid that if the educated young people start guiding the next generation, how will they start the battles between sects and religion by sending messages to WhatsApp University? “
Regarding safety concerns, he said, “These young men are all volunteers…We made sure that if the teacher was a male, the trainees were also male. If a girl wanted a mentor, a mentor would be assigned to her…We made the volunteers take a psychological test.” And we trained them. About 750 young men did not pass the psychometric test and no trainees were hired… Public schools have 5.5 thousand children and we asked them all if they wanted mentors. Those who wanted, got their parents’ approval. He asked about 2.2 lakh about their parents and we were able to Provide mentors to 1.76 lakh children.
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