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International Children's Broadcasting Day, 2010

© UNICEF/Gambia/2010/ssinghateh
Children took over as MCs for the Music Festival

On Sunday, 7th March 2010, many Gambians around the country woke up to the usual sounds of the morning news on GRTS Radio, The Gambia’s national radio station which has nationwide coverage, and widely listened to by over three-thirds of the population. But, there was something not usual about the voice reading the news this morning; the voice was that of a child’s. A few minutes into the news, Gambians were informed by this child that in celebration of the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting, children all over the world were taking over the broadcast media for the entire day to make their voices and issues heard. The English reading was followed by the news in Mandinaka, Wollof, and Fula, three of the most spoken ethnic languages in The Gambia, also read by children.

The Gambia has joined other countries each year to commemorate International Children’s Day of Broadcasting, which allows children and adolescents to exercise their right to expression, have their opinions heard and considered by decision makers, and create broader visibility on child related issues through broadcast media; one of the most significant avenues for public expression. In line with this year’s theme, All Rights All Children, and in consideration of the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) last November, UNICEF once again collaborated with key national broadcast media houses to work with children around the country in developing Child Rights related programmes and activities to broadcast for the day. Media partners were Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS Radio and GRTS TV), the national radio and television stations; Young People in the Media, a youth organization, in collaboration with Unique FM, a private radio station; and Brikama Community Radio in Western Region.

Taking to the Mike – Highlights

At 7 a.m., on the morning of ICDB, all the radio stations involved officially handed over their microphones and equipments to just under 150 Gambian Children, after weeks of training on how to operate broadcast equipments. The ICDB began traditionally with the news in English on implementing radio stations, as well as in Mandinaka, Wollof, and Fula on GRTS Radio. Other radio broadcast programmes that followed includes interviews with prominent people from the government and the community, panel discussions lead by children, phone-in programmes, dramas and songs related to the theme, and other forms of forums and activities to tease out concerning and problematic issues affecting children, and secure political will for possible future interventions.

Significant highlights on the radio include an interview at the Brikama Community Radio with Governor Lamin Touray, the Governor of Western Region, on issues surrounding the this year’s theme in relation to what the local government is doing to address these issues; and an interview at GRTS Radio with Mr. Dawda Jallow, Programme Officer of the National Council for Civic Education, on child rights issues including key stipulations of national and international child specific laws and convention. Young People in the Media, conducted at Unique FM radio station, a panel discussion comprising of children and high profile duty bearers from the government, NGOs, the private sector, health sector, and the education sector to discuss diverse issues such as education, child protection and participation, discipline, and the enforcement of the Children’s Act and the African Charter on the Rights of Women and Children, conducted by. They also held an Intergenerational Dialogue between children/young people and parents, NGO representatives, media practitioners, and other partners to discuss issues around the theme for this year. Kids With Talents (KWT), a private FM station operated by young people and children, also opened their lines for the day focussing programmes and discussions specifically on the child rights issues.

GRTS TV was taken over by children for the day, broadcasting programmes from Kids’ News, phone-in Q&As programmes, and phone-in music request programmes and other entertainment such as miming songs, fashion, and dramas. Key highlight of it broadcast programmes is the Kids’ News, which not only informed on national and international news, but also news specific to children and the ICDB.

© UNICEF/Gambia/2010/ssinghateh
Goodwill Ambassador, Jaliba Kuyateh, kept participants on the feet for most of the evening

Singing Out Children’s Rights

In the afternoon, GRTS TV brought together over 200 hundred children and guests in a Music and Entertainment festival at the GRTS Complex. The attendance of Honorable guests, including the Minister for Basic and Secondary Education, Mrs. Fatou Lamin Faye representing Her Excellency, the First Lady of The Gambia, Madam Zineb Jammeh; the Minister for Works, and Communication Infrastructure, Mr. Alhagie Cham; and the Minister for Energy, Mrs. Sira Ndow Njie, clearly emphasized the government’s commitment to support children and their rights, and encourage further positive results for children. The UNICEF Officer-in-Charge Ms. Etleva Kadilli, was also among the guests of honor.

In her opening remarks, the Vice President for Young People in the Media, Haddijatou Fofana, noted, “The Gambian children have shown great talent in self-expression, confidence, and technical skills during past ICDBs, and I am proud to recall you all to their laudable effort which won The Gambia the ICDB Award for two consecutive years, in 2005 and 2006.” She reiterated on the importance of taking the word of children seriously, “for nobody knows their problems and issues better than themselves”.

For her part, the UNICEF Officer-in-charge Ms. Etleva Kadilli, in her statement, made reference to the Gambian government’s relentless efforts to promote and support children’s rights through careful planning, and the creation of services and facilities. She further highlighted the government’s commitment towards children in the First Lady’s acceptance of the Call to Action declaration on Child Survival in 2008. Finally, she stated that ICDB was not only a day for children but for adults as well. “It is a day to for us to take a step back, and listen and learn from {children}. It is a day for us to reflect and open ourselves up to issues presented to us from a perspective different from our own. It is a day for us to take another bold step towards progress and achieving positive results for {children},” she declared.

Performing Gambian artists came out in numbers to display their respective commitment to Children. Among them was UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador in The Gambia, Mr. Jaliba Kuyateh who delivered key messages on promoting the 4 key household practices for improved child and community health. Other activities included sketches, songs, dances, and comedy performed by children of varying ages. The entire programme was captured on the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) both nationally and internationally on Satellite.

“The ICDB is a great opportunity for us the young people to not only speak out on matters that concern us, but also learn from expert broadcaster on the use of their equipments and also build up our skills in broadcasting. Some of us would like to make a career out of working in the media; and this is the first step towards developing ourselves and achieving our goals,” said 17 year-old Maimuna Jaiteh, a participant in the audience.

UNICEF considers the use of the media to disseminate child rights issues a priority. Supporting children’s radio and television programmes will ensure that children can themselves contribute useful and significant information to their peers and decision makers for change. UNICEF will continue to strengthen its relations with both the press and broadcast media in its efforts to leverage more resources and results for children.



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