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UNICEF and partners launch Child Rights Syllabus

© UNICEF/Turkey- 0298/Hosta
Former UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Director MariaCalivis and Professor Ozden Cankaya, of Galatasaray University, celebrate signing an MoU on March 25, 2009 for the establishment of a child rights syllabus.

Placing children’s rights at the heart of journalism
 
Six Turkish universities are leading the way in European journalism studies by agreeing to introduce a new UNICEF child rights syllabus (download) into their degree courses.

Teaching of the syllabus is scheduled to start in October this year following a series of teaching seminars between senior representatives of the six Turkish universities and the co-creators of the syllabus, the Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland.

Universities from four more CEE/CIS region countries are lined up to adopt this syllabus during 2009.

UNICEF CEE/CIS commissioned the Dublin Institute of Technology to devise and write this syllabus and the Dublin team remains a key partner in the development of this project.

Summary

The syllabus is a term/semester in duration. It was researched and written by the Dublin Institute of Technology and before its roll-out, peer reviewed by a committee of academics and child rights experts. The syllabus offers:

• major systemic change on the reporting of children
• the facility for the module to be easily slotted into existing journalism degree courses
• EU- accreditation
• online learning(online platform already established using ‘moodle’)
• influence upon the worldview of today’s student journalists and possibly tomorrow’s opinion-formers

In Turkey, their academics translated it and changed it to accommodate Turkish law, practice and policy. The Dublin Institute team has also introduced to those universities modern education practices including online learning. As we’ve completed the lengthy syllabus development phase this project is in a position to scale up implementation, relatively quickly.

© UNICEF/Turkey-0307/Hosta:
Representatives of five of the Turkish universities sign their MoUs on March 25, 2009, with the former UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Director, Maria Calivis(third from left)

Background

The media is in a critical position to bring about changes that will result in an improvement in children’s rights. Journalistic knowledge and practice can be seen from (at least) three perspectives:

• standards of journalistic practice
• journalists as a part of the process of change
• the media and its capacity to push the agenda of children as rights holders

In the CEE/CIS region, journalistic standards are poor. The function of the media as the 4th Estate of a democracy is also not understood. Hence, it is not surprising that the rights of children, their right to expression, to have a say in matters affecting them, to have their opinions heard, are either ignored or unknown.

Syllabus overview

Too few journalists are aware of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. So, the module is organised into two units. Unit I, Introducing Children’s Rights, provides the background to why understanding rights is so important and will look at good practice as well as the problems and challenges that arise in reporting news concerning children. Unit II, Children’s Rights and Professional Journalism Practice, deals with professional journalism practice from a children’s rights perspective and looks at the policies and the contexts in which we need to think about how to improve work, as journalists. The module becomes a core or optional element of curricula for institutions. The objective of the module is to provide the trainee journalist with concepts and information that will help to develop responsible news reporting skills that appreciate and respect children's rights. On completing this module, students will be able to understand children’s rights, particularly in the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  They will be able to critically evaluate news reporting of issues affecting children from a human rights or “rights-based” perspective. Most of all, they should be able to apply what they learn in future careers as journalists and news reporters and be able to report fairly, accurately and in keeping with the principles of children’s rights.

***ENDS***

For more details contact UNICEF CEE/CIS Communication Officer Mervyn Fletcher on +41 22 909 5433, mfletcher@unicef.org; UNICEF Turkey Communication Officer, Sema Hosta, on + 90 312 454 1000, shosta@unicef.org

CRS website at Dublin Institute of Technology

 

 
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