Desh Ke Mentor Programme: Delhi Govt
A controversy has broken out over the Delhi government’s flagship ‘Desh ke Mentor’ programme.
- The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has recommended that the Delhi government suspend its flagship programme till “the time when all the loopholes pertaining to the safety of the children are overhauled”.
- Desh ke Mentor programme Launched in October 2021 and is aimed at connecting students in classes IX to XII with voluntary mentors.
- People between the ages of 18 and 35 can sign up to be mentors through an app created by a team at the Delhi Technological University and will be connected with students based on mutual interests.
- The mentorship entails regular phone calls for a minimum of two months, which can optionally be carried on for another four months.
- The idea is for the young mentors to guide students through higher education and career options, preparation for higher education entrance exams, and dealing with the pressure of it all.
- 44,000 people have signed up as mentors so far and have been working with 1.76 lakh children.
- There are five primary points on which the NCPCR has raised concerns with regard to the programme:
- Safety from abuse: It has stated that assigning children to a mentor of the same gender as them does not necessarily assure their safety from abuse.
- Lack of police verification: It has also expressed concern over the lack of police verification of the mentors.
- Various concerns over the psychometric test.
- It has also stated that limiting interactions to phone calls also does not ensure the safety of children since “child related crime can be initiated through phone calls as well.”
- It has stated that while taking the consent of parents is an essential pre-requisite, the “responsibility and accountability of preventing children from such situation lies with the Department. The consent of parents cannot be used as a cushion in case of any untoward incident.”