A youth radio reporter presents her child-friendly school
Raissa, a young radio reporter in the UNICEF-supported child-to-child media programme presents her child-friendly school in the district of Chibuto, Gaza province.
Mozambique, August 2010 – Raissa, 12 years old, is a child-to-child radio reporter who hosts, along with other young participants, a weekly children’s programme called ‘Voices of Youth’ at Chibuto’s community radio.
Raissa lives with her grand-mother Aissa and her 9-year-old sister Mariana. She misses her parents very much since they moved to South Africa several years ago to support the family from there. Raissa, who is in 7th grade, takes her radio work very seriously. On her most recent assignment, she was asked to report on her school, a child-friendly school.
In countries like Mozambique that have been affected by poverty, food insecurity and where communities have been eroded by the impact of AIDS, UNICEF’s child-friendly schools become an entry point for basic services to children.
The schools aim to improve the quality of education and provide a positive and healthy environment for children through the implementation of a holistic package of interventions such as teacher’s training, access to safe water and sanitation, basic health checks, better classrooms and school supplies. Child-friendly schools promote girls’ education, tolerance, personal empowerment as well as inclusiveness – especially for vulnerable or stigmatised children.
Early that morning, after interviewing a few classmates and the school director at Bairro 3 primary school, Raissa, armed with her tape-recorder begins to interview one of her teachers. “Professor, what would you say to children who don’t know how to read or write and who don’t know their rights?” asks Raissa.
Significant progress has been made over the past decade in Mozambique’s school enrolment and attendance rates – today, 81 per cent of primary school-age children are attending primary school. However schools are now struggling to cope with the increased number of children entering the system each year.
Quality of education is one area that has particularly suffered from the rapid increase in enrolment, and as a result, school completion rates remain low. In an attempt to respond to these challenges, child-friendly schools have focused on minimum school-quality standards. Today, the package covers all primary schools across seven districts, benefiting 750 schools and over 370,000 school-age children.
Back at Bairro 3 School, Raissa, busy with her radio project, listens attentively to her classmates and teachers talking about the progress made in the school over the past few years.
The child-to-child radio programme complements other social mobilisation activities carried out in the scope of the child-friendly schools initiative, such as school theatre groups and mobile multimedia units. The objective is simple: to ensure that local communities understand the importance of sending their children to school.
The programme is the voice of Mozambican children in the local media. It ensures that children are involved in the development, production and presentation of the show. The programme also allows young participants like Raissa to express themselves on issues that affect them, learn about their rights and share their experience with other children.
Using an entertainment-education approach, the programmes also cover issues such as child abuse and violence against children, HIV and AIDS, health, education, environmental protection and entertainment. UNICEF started to support the programme in 2000 in partnership with the national public broadcaster Radio Mozambique.
Radio Mozambique currently has 34 child-to-child shows across the country. Nationwide, there are over 1,100 active children and young participants who develop, produce and present radio and television programmes for and by children.
After a few hours on the job, Raissa is satisfied with her interviews and looks forward to editing the content at the Chibuto community radio studio. She says she wants to become a journalist one day and travel in different countries, but in the meantime, she still likes to play with her dolls, study to get good grades and says she’s happy with her life at Bairro 3 primary school.