When it comes to the holistic development of a child, along with studies, engaging in sports and play is equally important, says Dil Bechara actor Sanjana Sanghi. Recently, the actor, to drive home her point, spoke about UN’s Human Right to Play. Sanjana said she was able to achieve what she has today was because she was allowed to “dwell and indulge in a cultural and artistic life beyond the realms of what we’re meant to do academically”.
She also stressed on the negative effects of parents turning play into competition, or seeing it as unimportant, had on her classmates. “I agree with the UN’s statement about India facing a problem of overly structured schedules and academic targets that are so pressurizing. Many of the children I've been working with don't get the chance to even discover their creative side. It makes you realize, when you take the pressure off and allowing The Right to Play by truly implementing it in an institution, that's the only way I was able to study and also be a Kathak dancer or learn jazz or be a debater,” she said.
Adding further she says, “For India, that's where the problem lies — the confidence, the faith to let children engage in play without adult control doesn't exist enough to let them. If one hour has been put aside in the school schedule or the post-school schedule, adult intervention is found almost everywhere, which ends up creating a pressure out of even playing. While we could dance or play, there were enough parents who made that dancing and singing a competitive pressure on the child to win that competition and be the captain of that sports team, that what was meant to be recreational ended up became something completely the opposite.”
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is an important agreement by countries who have promised to protect children’s rights. According to the convention, every child has a right to play and participate in cultural and creative activities.
Sanjana discussed how the Right to Play has been affected by COVID. “Our struggle with access to basic education is severe. I'm working with Save the Children on getting girls back to school, post the pandemic, because the rates at which dropouts are happening are alarming. There are 10 million girls on the verge of dropping out of school, post the pandemic in India. And that scares me because, along with their Right to Education, play is a by-product that will also be taken away from them. They will be forced to grow up much sooner, probably get married and swallowed into domestic chores, long before their minds and personalities could develop. And so now we're faced with the challenges that the pandemic brings with it. But I think, even if we were having this conversation two years ago, there was still such a big struggle with basic education that it just spills over into the Right to Play.”