Purpose of MelJol’s existence:
The consideration of children as important members of human society who need attention has evolved over time. A number of instruments have been created by global government bodies and civil society organizations to this effect. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by United Nations General Assembly in 1989 and ratified by large number of governments across the globe and India signing it in 1992 is a major step in the commitment to the protection of child rights. Various policy and legal frameworks developed by India indicate the nation’s inclination toward fulfilment of child rights.
India with its diversified social and cultural history inherits a society with varied socio – economic identities. Divisions based on religion, caste, language, gender and wealth are an integral part of these identities which lend themselves to iniquitous, exploitative and oppressive social and economic relationships. It marginalizes large segments of society who are historically on the fringe and victims of these constructs. However this segmentation is not linear. For example the social condition and status of women and children from privileged caste and wealthier background might just be the same as that from not so privileged groups. The changing fabric of the country in the liberal economy accentuates some of these divisions. The Constitution of India acknowledges these segmentations, divisions and inequalities and pledges to bring about changes that guarantee secularism, democracy, civil liberties and equity. Government and civil society organizations committed to the Constitution of India attempt to bring this change through their programme. MelJol is one such Civil Society Organization. It works towards bringing about a society that is based on principles of inclusion and equity. MelJol believes that children are one of the important stakeholders and partners in bringing about this change as they are not only the makers of tomorrow but valuable citizens of today.
The MelJol programme of social and financial education therefore is aimed at generating critical awareness, empowering children and their ecosystem through systematic interventions. Thus, it puts equal emphasis on learning social skills along with the skills of conservation of all resources including health and hygiene, the natural environment, socio-cultural and financial ones. It views the organization of children and adolescents as an important resource for action, self learning and social change. MelJol works primarily with underprivileged children in Government schools, village institutions and pre-schools (anganwadis) across the country to provide them with opportunities to participate in the process of development.
The partnership with other Civil Society Organizations, participation in Government and private sector programmes provides opportunities for achieving the desired scale for significant impact. The main current flagship program is called “Aflatoun Social and Financial Education” which is developed by MelJol for various age groups from 3 to 18 years of age (Aflatot: 3 to 6 years, Aflatoun: 6 to 14 years and Aflateen for 14 to 18 years). It instillsin children, a sense of pride at their ability to intervene and participate positively in their own world. It supports children to become independent thinkers and make decisions based on scientific and practical information. The empowered children and their child friendly eco – system would immensely complement efforts at changing our society in a more inclusive, just and participatory democratic direction.
MelJol is a non-governmental organization (NGO) registered under the Societies Registration Act. MelJol was initiated as a field action project of Family and Child Welfare, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai in December 1991. Since its inception MelJol has focussed on fostering healthy attitudes in children, creating awareness of the different needs of children from different backgrounds, and building spirit of confidence and entrepreneurship in order to create a civil society based on the co-existence and achievement.
Rooted firmly in the belief that children have rights and that children must participate in the creation of child-friendly world, MelJol seeks to develop children’s citizenship skills by focussing on child rights and responsibilities and providing them with opportunities to contribute positively to the environment. Meljol has been working with children and youth from socio economic backward regions for the past 20 years, and using the tools of social and financial education to help them break the cycle of poverty and face life with confidence. All of MelJol’s work is based on The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1990 (CRC).
When MelJol began work in the rural, tribal and urban areas of India, the first step was to create child friendly curriculum and develop and design teachers’ manuals to help teachers to facilitate sessions in the class rooms. MelJol realised the need to form children’s clubs which are called Aflatoun Clubs to encourage child participation in the activities organised under this curriculum. Through these clubs and making use of active learning methodology, the children were introduced to the concepts of personal understanding, self exploration, child rights and responsibilities, concept of savings and social and financial entrepreneurship. Experience of implementation of Aflatoun Social and Financial Programme encouraged children to manage their resources better and start social and financial micro-enterprises. MelJol seeks to develop a strong sense of citizenship in the children by focusing on educating them about what they are entitled to, what they can accomplish with that knowledge and providing them with opportunities to apply that knowledge.
MelJol seeks to rewrite the face of India’s rural economy while dramatically reinvigorating the classroom as a space of experience and excitement. It seeks to produce a new generation of young people who have been readied for the economic mainstream, with entrepreneurial skills so that they may understand the power of money and the concepts of risk and reward.
MelJol works primarily with underprivileged children in Government schools, village institutions and pre-schools (anganwadis) across the country to provide them with opportunities to participate in the process of development.
Aims of The MelJol programme
Generating critical awareness.
Empowering children and their ecosystem through systematic interventions.
It puts equal emphasis on learning social skills
The skills of conservation of all resources including health and hygiene, the natural environment, socio-cultural and financial ones.
To work towards an equitable social structure with a pluralistic society i.e. one that is an integrated society, where different cultures co-exist
To develop children’s citizenship skills by focusing on children’s right and responsibilities and providing them with opportunities to contribute positively to the environment using social and financial education tools.
To create awareness about the child rights and responsibilities with reference to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1990
To provide children with opportunities to be active participants in building a socially sensitive and equitable society
To promote responsible citizenship building amongst children, adolescents and youth