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In pursuit of a better understanding of child rights

VM Salgaocar College of Law, Miramar recently signed an MoU with University of  New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney.
NT KURIOCITY finds out how the association will benefit students, their response, and more

ANNA FERNANDES | NT KURIOCITY

With an aim to enhance academic programmes and research activities in the area of children’s rights, VM Salgaocar College of Law (VMSCL), Miramar recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, a premier varsity in Australia.

Sharing the main objective of the collaboration, assistant professor at VM Salgaocar College of Law, Kim Couto says: “The MoU is the first step towards formalising and fostering a relationship between the two institutions, both of whom are keenly engaged in creating a safer and better world for children in their communities.”

As part of the collaboration, a Child Rights Clinical Comparative Development Programme has been established. The unique cross-cultural clinical programme aims to provide students with legal and practical training in various aspects of children and family law. “The purpose of the programme is to expose students to new legal, political and cultural paradigms through the prism of international and comparative perspectives on children’s rights, laws preventing sexual harassment, family law and related matters,” says Couto.

Partnering with the UNSW Sydney that runs a similar initiative would provide a novel and unique clinical learning experience in community engagement and outreach, for students from both institutions, says Couto, adding that “UNSW Law and VM Salgaocar College of Law both have a long and proud history of providing legal services to their communities through student clinics, and the programme will draw on those clinics particularly focused on the protection of child’s rights.” The collaboration would thus take forward the noble objectives on which the clinics of both institutions were set up.

In addition, being common law jurisdictions there are a number of similarities in the child related legislations of both India and Australia. “Child legislations play out differently in each jurisdiction due to varying social and cultural contexts. The programme will focus on how children are understood within the respective legal systems,” she adds.

Couto further adds that the students from both institutions are looking forward to a healthy interaction with each other both via their on-campus research projects and also through the 10-day planned clinical programme. “Being the first student exchange programme in the college, students are excited and eager to learn about children’s rights in a cross-cultural set up,” she says. Under the MoU, each institution will identify a select group of students to participate in the 10-day programme at the reciprocating university. The first exchange programme will be organised by UNSW Law in November 2019, followed by a programme in India in January 2020. During the programme, students will learn about the legal framework for the protection of children’s rights internationally – in India and Australia, and will work with each other on comparative projects to consider different ways in which each country can learn from the other’s experience. They will also learn how clinical programmes work in different countries and get a glimpse of the various challenges involved in the functioning and operation of clinics in different cultural and legal contexts.

UNSW will provide the travel grant to the students participating in the programme. Besides including child rights and law reform, the programme will also cover intersecting issues, including sexual harassment and family law issues, community education initiatives, legal aid and child rights clinical programmes both in India and Australia.

VMSCL anticipates that this exchange programme will broaden the learning experience for Goan students so that they are not confined to understanding local issues only but address global issues from a children’s rights perspective. Besides providing a global face to the institution, the MoU will also provide a platform for students and faculty alike to engage in collaborative research and other academic pursuits. Looking ahead, the college intends to organise more exchange programmes so as to provide a cutting edge learning experience to both Goan students and faculty.

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