September 2006, Young Kyrgyz Journalists Interview their President
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, 5 September 2006 – A group of child journalists in Kyrgyzstan had the privilege of interviewing their president after winning the Child Truth competition, supported by UNICEF. Youths were asked to submit an article entitled, If I were president then I would….
The writing contest involved children between the ages of seven to sixteen who hail from all over the republic. The 26 winners were invited to a series of events in the capital of Bishkek, including a press conference with their leader on 30 August, the eve of the country’s Independence Day.
One of the winners, nine-year old Ermek Nurmambetov, used his entry to discuss the state of education in Kyrgyzstan. “We need to triple teachers’ salaries. Then, they will teach us better,” he wrote.
At the press conference with the President, the children expressed their views on issues that are central to them and their peers.
“Does the President know that in all schools in Naryn Oblast children suffer from racketeering? If yes, what he is going do?” asked one youth, referring to the practice of older children forcing younger ones to hand over their pocket money or steal from their parents.
Raising children’s voices
During a meeting with UNICEF, the youths discussed the recently approved Code of the Kyrgyz Republic on Children, which helps protect children from abuse, discrimination and separation from their families. They asked challenging questions to learn how it could practically impact their lives.
The trip to Bishkek also included an awards ceremony, a tour around the UN House and an excursion to see the National TV studio and a publishing house.
The President assured the organisers of the competition that he would follow initiatives to develop the growing network of young journalists in the Republic. This network of youths, along with the Pro-Child Media Club – a group comprised of media professionals – are among UNICEF’s main partners in increasing public awareness on the importance of fulfilling the rights of all children. Together, they are working to reinforce the Convention on the Rights of the Child and raise children’s voices in Kyrgystan.