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India exposes claim that children are involved in armed conflict

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Nov 21 (UNI) Authors of a United Nations sponsored report claiming that children below 15 in India were involved in armed conflict apologised but did not say how they came by that impression, India's delegate said this evening.

''We questioned the claim,'' Minister of State for Human Resource Development Daggubati Purandareswari, back from an Education For All meet in Egypt, told journalists.

The claim figured in a Global Monitoring Report 2007: Strong Foundations - Early Childhood Care and Education presented at Cairo by EFA Global Monitoring Report Team Director Nicholas Burnett.

She said India was clearly not a country with any noticeable incidence of this sort and engaged in efforts like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and dealing with problems of child labour.

The Minister of State said she questioned the report on that point and its authors were apologetic.

Asked how in the first place they came upon such a conclusion, Ms Purandareswari said ''they did not come out with that.'' The Cairo meet was centred on Early Childhood Care and Education and the Indian delegate spoke of the need to introduce an element of education at pre-school level, since ''our focus'' is mostly on health issues.

Asked about donors' failure to come through on pledges, Ms Purandareswari said their concerns were effective implementation of programmes and transparency.

She said she emphasised the need to set funding priorities taking into account absolute numbers of children to be covered-- not just on the basis of proportion.

A nation of the size of India evidently has a much greater need of resources than a less populated country.

The Minister said she explained at the conference such Indian programmes as the SSA, Mid Day Meals, Education Guarantee Scheme for hard to reach target groups and the Literacy Mission.

She said she also described India's innovative resource mobilisation efforts such as education cess and Prarambhik Siksha Kosh.

Ms Purandareswari headed the Indian delegation in the 6th High Level Group Meeting on EFA at Cairo.

UNI MJ RP DB1828

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