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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Delhi: Parents asked to supervise ‘Desh ke mentor’ phone calls

🔴 The NCPCR had written to the Delhi government last week asking it to suspend this flagship programme until “all the loopholes pertaining to the safety of the children are overhauled”.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: January 19, 2022 8:14:15 am
Delhi, Delhi latest news, Desh Ke Mentor, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Delhi government, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Arvind Kejriwal, indian expressThe CM, Deputy CM had earlier lashed out at the BJP over the issue. (File)

Following the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ (NCPCR) notice on safety issues with the Delhi government’s ‘Desh ke Mentor’ programme, the education department has advised that parents be present whenever children speak to their mentors.

The NCPCR had written to the Delhi government last week asking it to suspend this flagship programme until “all the loopholes pertaining to the safety of the children are overhauled”. It had raised concerns over the possibility of children being exposed to abuse by people designated as mentors to them, who they are supposed to speak with regularly on the phone. It had raised concerns over the lack of police verification of the mentors, and questioned the ‘psychometric test’ that applicants are supposed to take before being enrolled as mentors.

Launched in October 2021, the programme aims at providing voluntary mentors to students in classes IX to XII in these schools. 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 connected with students based on mutual interests. The mentorship entails regular phone calls for a minimum of two months, which can be carried on for four more months optionally.

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The idea is for the young mentors to guide students through higher education and career options, preparation for higher education entrances, and dealing with the pressure of it all. According to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, 44,000 people have signed up as mentors so far. He said that of these, 500 are IIT graduates, 500 are IIM graduates, 15,600 are studying – from graduation to PhDs – and 15,600 are working. They have been working with 1.76 lakh children.

The education department has not suspended the programme but has now asked that parents supervise these calls.

“To make the existing programme of mentoring more secure and safe for the children enrolled as mentees under ‘Desh ke Mentor’ program, all parents of such members are hereby advised to ensure the presence of any adult member of the family during the conversation between mentors and mentees, done time to time through App under ‘Desh ke Mentor’ programme,” read a circular issued to all heads of government schools by the education department.

Earlier, the Delhi government had lashed out against the Centre and the NCPCR for asking that the programme be suspended, saying that safeguards had been kept in mind when it was designed.
The Deputy CM had said mentors of the same gender were assigned to students and consent was taken from parents before the programme was started.

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