can’t forget the children’
The private sector and the entertainment
industry must do more to provide education to all children in South
Asia says Bollywood’s Mahesh Bhatt who was in Sri Lanka last
One of Bollywood’s most prolific filmmakers and special envoy
of UNICEF, Mahesh Bhatt made a short visit to Sri Lanka last week
to participate in the CIMA Community Leaders Awards organised by
CIMA and The Sunday Times Business Club. His trip was aimed at promoting
education for all children and corporate social responsibility in
the private sector.
the ‘Samata Sarana’ home in Mutwal which caters to the
needs of slum and street children in Colombo North, Bhatt came face
to face with the problems children in this underprivileged community
have to deal with.
a film director and producer, I am glad I have had the opportunity
to support children with UNICEF for many years using the skills
and experiences of my profession. In my work with UNICEF, I have
helped children from different parts of India to learn filming and
editing skills so that they can make their own short films about
HIV/AIDS. Their work was shown to many young people at schools across
the country to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS and prevent discrimination.
The creativity and ideas of children always impress me. I enjoy
working with them and learning from them,” Mahesh Bhatt said.
who began his career in 1971 with a film called ‘Manzilen
Aur Bhi Hain’ went on to make landmark films like ‘Arth,
Saaranash, Janam and Naam’. His films explored human emotions,
of sorrow, desires and needs. His last film “Zakhm”
which depicts a touching story of a mother and her illegitimate
son against the backdrop of the ’92-93 communal riots in Bombay,
won two national awards this year. It also received five screen
awards and a Film Fare Award.
disparity in education is a serious issue in South Asia, says Bhatt.
“I congratulate Sri Lanka that your primary school enrolment
rates are high for both girls and boys. But I also understand that
much more can be done to improve the quality of education. I believe
that investing in education is an urgent task for us all in South
Asia. I would like to encourage people in the private sector, including
the entertainment industry to get involved in promoting the rights
of the child, especially in education. Children are our future.
They will lead our society,” he added.
in 1988 as an NGO, Samata Sarana provides education through a non-formal
setting for children of slum families who otherwise would have been
denied their right to education. Education has also been focused
on as a protective tool against child labour and child abuse as
these children are from areas where there is widespread drug use
and distribution, alcoholism, abuse and commercial sex.
Sarana has a pre-school and non-formal education up to Grade 9 for
over 400 children from the Mutwal slums and shanties -- These children
are also provided medical services and a midday meal in addition
to uniforms and books.
association also helps neglected elders from the slums and has awareness
programmes on children’s rights, adolescence, for expectant
mothers and vocational training as well.