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Representing Lost Childhood

Training programme for media professionals and children.

Organization

The PressWise Trust

Contact details

Mike Jempson, Director
The PressWise Trust
38 Easton Business Centre
Felix Road, Bristol, BS5 0HE, UK
Tel: +44 117 941 5889
Fax: +44 117 941 5848
Email: pw@presswise.org.uk
Website: www.presswise.org.uk

Project partners

Butterflies Programme for Street and Working Children, New Delhi
British Council, New Delhi
Instituto de Defensa Legal, Peru
Chaskiwawas, Peru
Qosqo Maki, Peru
UNICEF
Unlimited Productions (UK)

Location

1999-2002: training programmes in Armenia, Georgia, India, Latvia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Moldova, Peru, the Philippines and Romania.

Background

Using the Internet, PressWise ascertained that there was widespread demand among journalists for training on coverage of children affected by conflict; and among children's NGOs (non-governmental organizations) for training on media relations; and in radio production techniques for children. We then sought funding for partnership projects.

Aims and objectives

To enable children affected by war, exploitation, poverty and abuse to win space in the media for their ideas, needs and opinions, especially by sensitizing media professionals to their stories.

Participants

Media professionals, NGO workers and children living or working on the streets aged 9-18.

Target audience

Media professionals, NGO workers and young people.

Wider beneficiaries

The public (especially children, young people and their carers) and policy makers.

Involvement of children

Teams of children living or working on the streets in New Delhi and Cuzco learned radio production techniques.

Summary of project

Working with UNICEF communications officers in the UK, journalists with international experience delivered three-day courses on the coverage of children, with media professionals from Armenia, Georgia, Kosovo, Latvia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia. Working with local NGOs, radio workshops were delivered to groups of children in New Delhi, India, and Cuzco in Peru. More workshops are planned for the Philippines and Zambia. Each event was written up.

Funders

British Council
Camden Trust
The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund
UNICEF

Strengths of project

The journalism training was rooted in direct experience, engaging media professionals in challenging debate with their peers and encouraging networking across borders and disciplines.

The radio workshops were entirely practical, transferring skills to children who were then empowered to make their own programmes. In each case the training was accompanied by visits and discussions with editors, media regulators and trainers to generate local interest in coverage of children's rights, and to assist follow-up.

In India the children presented their radio segments to an invited audience of media professionals, resulting in an extraordinary dialogue and unprecedented media coverage, especially as the children exploded myths about themselves which had been generated by previous unbalanced coverage.

In Cuzco the children made such an impression that consortia of local radio stations formally agreed to include child-produced materials in their schedules on a regular basis.

Challenges

Developing and delivering similar training in very different settings can be problematic, and there is understandable resistance to 'external' interference especially if the trainers have, at best, only a theoretical knowledge of local conditions.

However, making children's rights the focus of the work is a great leveller, and the most important element of the courses was the willingness of everyone involved to think about and challenge their own assumptions.

Evaluation

Each training session was followed by a discussion and the completion of evaluation forms which were then analysed both by local partners and by PressWise, which produced a summary report. Return visits were organized a year later, where possible, and contact was maintained with some of the participants. External evaluation was to be arranged by The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, but this has yet to be completed.

Lessons learned

Always find ways of setting things in a local context and building in elements of sustainability (training of trainers) especially if there is insufficient funding to follow up each training event. If media trainers are going to enter unknown territory, theoretical knowledge is no substitute for direct engagement with local media. Use local trainers whenever possible.

When building partnerships, don't be afraid to keep asking questions and seeking evidence for answers. Good documentation is essential if lessons are to be learned. Finding ways of communicating with senior media executives about children's rights is as important as training working journalists.

Good ideas

Getting journalists to debate among themselves about best practice is one of the best ways of encouraging reflection and change. Linking the training to other events and activities to highlight the importance of children's rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) can provide local projects with a platform from which to develop public debate and policy changes in collaboration with the media.

Encouraging journalists to listen to children with respect is a vital element in the process of effecting change. Each training session included opportunities for participants to develop story ideas which they could follow up after the event, and they were encouraged to develop their own networks to share information and experience.

Sustainability

All training materials were made available in local languages for future adaptation and use. Each training session incorporated the ideas of those present taking ownership so that the sensitization could continue. We have maintained contact with some participants, and sought to ensure that the enthusiasts gained additional experience and recognition.

Examples

A comprehensive account of the children's radio workshop in New Delhi, with transcripts, has been produced by Butterflies Programme for Street and Working Children. Reports on training events appear on (Peru) and (New Delhi).

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