The article “Pupils starve as feeding programme collapses” that featured in City Press (7/10/07, p.12), is a reason to be glad, because it draws attention to the way in which the failure of Government in implementing the feeding scheme impacts on children’s wellbeing. The highlighting of this failure promotes the interests and rights of children.
The article, written by Phumza Sokana, focuses on a school nutrition programme in the Eastern Cape. It provides information about the purpose and target group of the school nutritional programme, as well as the negative effects of it’s ceasing to function on children and their families. Through focusing on a school nutritional programme, the article educates people about South African Government policy, as well as issues such as poverty which affect people in South Africa, concentrating on the particular impact on children.
The article uses the experience of one child and her family to give an insight into the circumstances of pupils who are supposed to benefit from the programme and to demonstrate the impact of the programme’s failure. This is positive, as it helps readers to identify with people who are affected by poverty.
To tell the story, the reporter uses and directly quotes a child who is affected by the programme’s failure. This is commendable, as it recognises the right of children to speak for themselves about issues affecting them.
While the article is overall commendable, there is an important consideration that was not made by the reporter – the need to protect the identity of the child. In the article, the reporter specifies the child’s name and where she is attending school. Her personal circumstances, including her poverty and family circumstances, are given.
It may be that the reporter’s intention was to make the story one that readers could relate to by personalising it. However, this could have been done equally well whilst hiding the identity of the child, and, for example using a fictionalised name. The identified child could be exposed to teasing and stigmatisation by other children and adults in the school and wider community. In this instance, identifying the child was not in her interest.
Overall, the writing and publication of this article is in the interests of children who face poverty, particularly those reliant on such programmes. It promotes people’s awareness of the way in which not everybody’s needs are being met, and highlights the necessity for Government officials to act swiftly to implement the school nutrition programme effectively.