World Press Freedom Day - freedom of expression for youth
The right of young people to make their voices heard is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and represents one of the main objectives of the Children’s Radio Foundation. Mtandao wa Wanahabari Watoto, our Youth Reporters Network in Tanzania, started in 2011 with UNICEF, and now involves nine sites and more than 200 active young reporters. Tackling topics like the right to education, the right to be treated fairly and of course, the right to express themselves, they are the national voice of child rights across Tanzania. Joyce, a 13-year-old reporter from Moshi, Kilimanjaro, recalls listeners’ reactions after her report on children with disabilities: “It made me happy to hear that most of them were asking to stop discrimination against children with disabilities.” According to Linus Kilembu, a presenter at Radio 5, a radio partner in Arusha, “The project is very beneficial to the community because there is no better person to talk about a child’s life and about what that child needs than the child him or herself.”
What resonates most for young reporters is the impact the radio reporting and production has on their confidence, communication, and critical thinking skills.
They are prepared to actively and constructively engage with their community, and to amplify the voices of other youth. 17 year-old Bronwyn from Manenberg, Cape Town, noted that:
"Through the workshops I learnt more about my community and I got more clever asking questions to other people. Through radio, I learnt how to speak out loudly, more openly, so I think teenagers will find a way to talk through radio."
In creating a space for young people to be able to express themselves and engage with their peers and wider community, youth participation in radio allows for a broader understanding of self and others. It also forces adults to take note that young people have opinions, and that they are asking to be heard.