Future Journalists – Power of Media Clubs
by Nana A. Garbrah-Aidoo, C4D Manager and Team
Musanze - Northern Province, Rwanda, May, 2012: A two and a half days training in print and radio journalism has been held for 50 members of Media Clubs from the Northern Province of Rwanda.
The participants who ranged in age from 16 to 19 years are members of five secondary school-based clubs and comprised 28 girls and 22 boys, accompanied by their Club Patrons.
The Manager of the Musanze Community Radio, Jervis Karangwa who welcomed the participants on behalf of the Director General of Rwanda Office of Information (ORINFOR) thanked participants for honouring the invitation to be part of this ground-breaking event. He stressed the importance of the training for the Media Clubs and for the work of the community radios.
“Our experience has been that members of the Media Clubs especially those waiting to enter university provide an invaluable service to the community radios as volunteers, providing much-needed skills,” he said.
The clubs according to Karangwa also provide an opportunity for students interested in pursuing a career in the media to cultivate their interests and skills. “The Media Clubs are a wonderful training ground for the best journalists of the future. Some of the best reporters we have at our station now were members of media clubs,” he said.
The media clubs develop the public speaking skills of members, who are mandated to follow radio and newspaper stories and organise debates in the schools on relevant national issues. Members of the clubs are also role models and peer educators in their schools and their communities.
Karangwa talked about the pride of the local communities in the activities of these young aspiring journalists. “The communities appreciate these young people and trust them as they report from the far corners where other journalists will not go, and report correctly. Our best sports reporter is a member of a Media Club, a girl”
On behalf of the UNICEF Representative Noala Skinner, the Communication for Development Manager encouraged the participants to take advantage of all the opportunities available to improve their lives. She called on them to make a difference for their generation, by being the voices of children in their communities and telling the story of young people in the country.
UNICEF Rwanda in partnership with the Rwanda Office of Information (ORINFOR) provides technical support to seven community radio stations and 25 secondary school-based Media Clubs across the country to facilitate community engagement and dialogue on key child survival and development issues and ensure equity-focused mechanisms for participation of children in decision-making processes.
The aim of the Media Clubs is to empower secondary school-age children to advocate for the rights of children, be the voices of children in the communities and to provide a forum for children and young people to participate in decentralised and national decision making.
The two and a half day training coordinated by ORINFOR addressed issues such as Understanding Child Rights, Understanding Our Bodies, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDs with a focus on Abstinence, Condom Use, Negotiating Condom Use, HIV Counselling and Testing, and Sexual and Gender-based Violence. Other sessions of the training were on Understanding Hygiene focussing on personal hygiene and handwashing with soap, Communication for behaviour and social change and, sessions on Using the Media for community action during which participant acquired media interviewing and writing skills.
Club members volunteer during vacations at a local community radio or newspaper where they assist the management of the stations to produce and broadcast children-focused programmes.
Similar trainings are planned for members of Media Clubs in the remaining four provinces of Rwanda.