Young Reporters’ Network
A space for youth participation and community journalism
What is the Young Reporters’ Network?
UNICEF Tanzania partnered with the Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF) in 2011 to establish the Young Reporters Network (YRN) programme, a national consortium of community-based children’s radio projects across Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar. Today, the programme is active in Zanzibar.
It offers a unique opportunity for Tanzanian youth to share their concerns, experiences, hopes and aspirations, and to effectively participate in bringing about behavior and social change through material featured on traditional and social media.
Young reporters have the skills to produce weekly radio shows for children and young people, reaching millions of listeners on community and national radio stations with key messages on child rights.
The YRN model was designed to encourage sustainability, promote active citizenship and community ownership, to build national capacity, to increase the quantity and quality of children’s radio programmes and to ensure child/youth mentorship and participation throughout the process.
Young reporters are recruited at the age of 10-16, and attempts are made to ensure balanced participation of boys and girls. While most of the young reporters are from disadvantaged backgrounds, each implementing partner recruits young reporters with varying profiles from the target group it commonly engages with and depending on the local context. Hence young reporters include children living and working in the street, children living with HIV/AIDS, children with albinism and children representing both refugee camps and refugee hosting communities.
The young reporters meet regularly to brainstorm themes and story ideas for their 30-60 minutes programmes. The programmes include audio diaries and commentaries, interviews and talk shows through which the young reporters share true stories about their lives, about living with HIV, about living on the streets, about neglect, child marriage, teen pregnancies and about child rights.
Listen to the young reporters
The power of radio
Radio remains a critical option for youth empowerment and participation for enabling young people’s voices to be heard all over Tanzania as it is the dominant mass communication channel with a national reach of over 80 per cent and average access rates of over 60 per cent across demographic groups (TDHS 2010).
Radio is central to encouraging a community dialogue in Tanzania and most households identify it as the primary medium through which they receive news and information. Radio programming is easy to learn, inexpensive to produce, and has the ability to reach millions in even the most remote corners of the country. Using radio as a medium to broadcast programmes and stories on child rights enables even the hardest to reach populations and most vulnerable children to hear the key messages, to be informed and educated.
Community radio, more specifically, is gaining momentum and credibility in Tanzania. Additionally, since Tanzania went digital in 2013 these radio stations can now also boast larger coverage and wider audiences beyond their small communities. Community radio is the only media that reflects the immediate needs and experiences of its community members at the local level, utilizing the local language, addressing prominent issues, and creating spaces of dialogue that address local problems. Tanzania currently has community radio stations in Zanzibar.
Why we need a YRN
Children comprise more than 50 per cent of Tanzania’s population, but their voices remain significantly muted despite them facing disproportionate and often severely limiting challenges and obstacles to their growth and development. Tanzania has high levels of violence against children; nearly 30 per cent of young women in Tanzania report being sexually abused before reaching 18 years of age, and more than 70 per cent of youth, both boys and girls, reported being hit or beaten in their childhood (GoT/UNICEF/CDC, 2010).
Children without education and those from the poorest households tend to be particularly vulnerable. For example, overall one in 10 girls are sexually active by the age of 14, while as many as 1 in 4 girls with no education are sexually active at this age. Girls from a lower socioeconomic background are also more likely to be sexually active at an early age. Likewise, while a quarter of adolescents aged 15-19 are pregnant or have given birth, as many as 6 out of 10 teenagers with no education have begun childbearing. Teenage girls in rural areas are twice as likely to have begun childbearing as girls in urban areas. (TDHS 2010).
Children’s rights hardly feature in the mainstream media and if they do, are usually treated as peripheral.
Children are seldom given opportunity to speak publicly on issues that affect them. The assumption is often that they lack the necessary values, attitudes and skills to actively participate and succeed in decision-making that has direct impact on their families, community and country. Yet there is no disputing the fact that children have experience, knowledge and ideas that are unique to their situation, enabling them to offer key insights and perspectives on issues that affect them like nobody else can.
Furthermore, the sharing of children’s experiences on mass media not only provides a space of dialogue for young people, but it also creates a space for adults to increase their understanding and support for child rights issues. In essence, children and youth need spaces for community participation, active citizenship and community building and this is where the Young Reporters Network comes in.