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The Voice of Children in the Media: Child Reporters in Sri Lanka

Child Reporters from the Sunday Times Kusan, Ama and Dinusha Interviewing Joanna Van Gerpen, UNICEF Representative for Sri Lanka at her office in Colombo.

By Suzanne Davey

Colombo, Sri Lanka - “Apart from being a UN organization dedicated towards providing healthcare and education to developing countries, what else does the UNICEF do?” questions Dinusha, 14 year old child reporter for the Sunday Times.

Dinusha loves writing and wants a fulltime career in journalism. She along with Kusan 10yrs and Ama 12yrs report for the Sunday Times. The newspaper has taken an initiative in developing child reporters, still in its infancy in Sri Lanka. Each child had a prepared note pad of questions focused on UNICEF’s work in health, education and war affected children as well as funding.

Is there any country which UNICEF does not help ? queries Dinusha. She likes theatre and is quite engrossed in Shakespearean drama. “I think some of the articles are very childish and lacks depth ‘say’s Ama, on the quality of articles appearing in the children’s pages of current newspapers. Ama has been writing articles since she was 10 years old. She enjoys writing in her free time and many of her articles have been published. Ama was also Interested in UNICEF’s work for war affected children in the east. She, comes from a family of three and is in the eighth grade. Of the many interests she also likes music and wants to become a singer someday.

Kusan, 10year old child reporter after the interview with UNICEF representative

Kusan was interested in UNICEF’s work for children of prisoners particularly prison babies and also wanted to know whether there are any particular areas in Sri Lanka where children are more affected by poverty. He was very keen to find out the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Children especially if the CRC was different from the Sri Lankan laws and how UNICEF informed children about their rights.

In response to his overall impression of the interview with Joanna he responded “I thought she was scary…..after I talked to her I got to know that she was a kind and nice person”….. This 10 year old likes school say’s its’ fun, big play area and loads of friends. He enjoys movies and skiing as well. Kusan said that he ‘had a lot of fun and learned a lot of things about UNICEF during the interview.

This Sunday Times initiative has enabled young people in Sri Lanka to constructively engage in issues that affect their lives. “Kid reporters is a project largely aimed at encouraging young readers to meet, ask questions and enhance their writing skills” says Mr. Sinha Ratnatunga, Editor in Chief – Sunday Times. “ I hope that some of these kid reporters would become cub reporters, good writers and authors someday”. He said.

Three years have passed since the launch of UNICEF’s state of the world’s children 2003 report which focused on the unexplored issue of ‘child participation’. The report emphasises that participation of children is essential to preparing them for the responsibilities they will assume as adults, as well as to more cohesive societies.



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