Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) awards a GLAD to City Press for three articles which appeared in the same edition of the newspaper and portrayed children positively, by highlighting their achievements and giving them a voice.
The first article, “’We are forgotten here’” (05/11/2017, p.10) by Lubabalu Ngcukana, is about 16-year-old Phamela Fili from Noqhekwane Junior Secondary School in the Eastern Cape who speaks about the disadvantages of not having electricity at her school and the lack of access to technology she experiences as a result of this issue. The article highlights the responsibility of the department of education in this regard stating how having no electricity at a school is “a violation of the department of basic education’s own minimum norms and standards.” The article further shines light on government’s neglect on this matter referring to a report by Equal Education which reveals how appeals from the provincial department were ignored and how “neither the national nor the provincial departments took any steps to provide interim access to electricity …”
MMA commends City Press for highlighting a children’s issue that has been ignored by the relevant stakeholders whilst accessing the voices of children directly affected by it and still portraying Phamela as a determined individual. The article talks about how Phamela wants to be a social worker and her hopes of going to a high school “with facilities she has only dreamt of”.
“Zazini leaves rivals in the dust” (05/11/2017, p.18) by Silver Sibiya reports on a 17-year-old sprinter, Sokwakhana Zazini, who is excelling at athletics and has been nominated as best newcomer at the SA Sports Awards. The child who is reportedly originally also from the Eastern Cape but is based in Pretoria is quoted saying, “I feel excited. It’s an honour to be nominated as the best newcomer… I’ve always been in love with athletics, and hurdles was always my dream event. I started doing it from a young age and I was able to work on my technique.”
The third article “Sport can impact positively on youngsters“ (05/11/2017, p.17) also by Silver Sibiya is about 17-year-old Panashe Sithole and 15-year-old Sasha Dikotla from St. Mary’s School who play squash and hockey respectively and share about the importance of sports and how it has helped them outside of the field. Panashe is quoted saying, “Through sport I’ve seen myself and my friends learn to cope in a competitive environment, abide by rules, work as a team and respect others.”
Sasha is also quoted in the article saying, “I apply the same principles I’ve learnt in hockey -hard work and dedication – to other aspects of my life.”
MMA commends both journalists for portraying the children involved positively and accessing them for their views. This kind of reporting supports the promotion of children’s right to freedom of speech as enshrined in Articles 12 and 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) which South Africa ratified in 1995. Furthermore, assigning positive roles such as where children are seen as achievers in stories about them empowers and urges them to continue performing well. It also challenges patterns where children are mostly shown as victims and other less positive roles in the news.
We applaud City Press for publishing these stories and encourage the newspaper to publish more on these.
By Girlie Sibanda
 GLADs refer to articles where the rights and welfare of children have been promoted