Liberian children take to the airwaves to make their voices heard [31 May 2014]
UNICEF joins Press Union of Liberia in celebrating Liberia Children’s Media Day
MONROVIA, Liberia 31 May 2014 – The headquarters of the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) was teeming with activity today as young people from across Montserrado County laughed, danced and sang in celebration of Liberia Children’s Media Day. Spearheaded by the Press Union of Liberia and supported by UNICEF and the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), this annual day-long event is dedicated to opening the media to children to talk about issues that have a bearing on their lives.
“In any society, one of the most important roles the media plays is to serve as a platform from which citizens’ voices can be heard,” said Press Union of Liberia President, Mr. Abdullai Kamara. “Liberia Children’s Media Day is about inviting the country’s youngest citizens to share that platform with us in order to highlight the issues that most affect them – from their health, to their education, to their social welfare.”
Liberia Children’s Media Day was born out of UNICEF’s International Children’s Day of Broadcasting, a global initiative launched in 1991. This initiative was nationalized in 2012 and expanded in 2013 to encompass all media channels, though radio remains the main focus of activities.
The emphasis on radio reflects the fact that in Liberia, radio is still the primary mass media channel through which the bulk of the population receives their news. Throughout the past week, children were in studios across the country pre-recording shows that were broadcast today on the state-owned station, UNMIL Radio and over 40 community radio stations.
“There is a myth that encouraging children to speak up and participate promotes disrespect for authority, but we know that reality is different,” said UNICEF Representative Sheldon Yett. “We have learned that children who have been encouraged to participate and speak up about issues that concern them are more engaged in the health of their societies, more concerned about their rights and more respectful of the rights of others. “
Topics discussed during today’s programmes included children’s rights, sports and family issues, including parent-child relationships. With the support of UNMIL Radio, child presenters also produced a show called “Tomorrow’s Doctor” in which they shared their visions and ideas about how parents and policy-makers can guarantee a healthy nation for children.
During each radio programme, the young hosts shared information on these topics with their peers, answered questions and engaged in lively discussions. Aired on radio stations with a combined reach of over one million of the country’s 3.5 million citizens, the shows also raised the profile of children’s issues and opinions with the decision-makers who impact their lives, including parents, teachers, religious and traditional leaders and government officials at the community and national levels.
At today’s event at LBS studio, the Press Union of Liberia, UNICEF and alumni of the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting programme gave remarks underscoring the importance of the day for children. The celebration was accompanied by music and a performance by Liberian Hip Co artist Picado, while children themselves served as the MCs and broadcast the ceremony live on both the state-owned radio station and UNMIL Radio.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information, please contact:
· Adolphus Scott, Communications for Development Specialist
· Carolyn Kindelan, Communications Officer