Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is pleased to award the City Press newspaper a GLAD[1] for publishing a story that highlights a children-related issue and further accesses a child for their opinions on the matter.

The story, “Painful to be a pupil” (01/09/2019, p.6), written by Lubabalo Ngcukana, highlights the plight of pupils at Faltein Secondary School near Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape, where they have to do their schooling under unfavourable conditions. Their school is reportedly made up entirely of corrugated iron sheets and planks and the classrooms have no concrete floor.  

The article includes the personal experiences of 14-year-old Sinegugu Ncoko who is a Grade 9 pupil at the school with aspirations of one day being a financial adviser when she completes her studies. In the article, Ncoko is pleading for “the government to build her school properly and equip it with the necessary resources, including computer and science laboratories, a library and other infrastructure.”

The article is supplemented with two photographs, a close up shot from outside a makeshift window with a smiling Ncoko inside her classroom, and the other a wide shot showing the sandy and dusty classroom floor with pupils seated at their desks.

Ncoko is quoted in the article saying, “We are learning under very difficult conditions but we are enduring these hardships because we want to be better people in life.”

In going about completing the story, it is clear that the journalist made the necessary effort to frame the article in a manner that highlights the issue from the perspective of the pupils, accessing one of the pupils to give commentary on an issue that directly affects their lives and future prospects. This is important because more often than not, coverage around dysfunctional school infrastructure largely ignores the perspectives of pupils, rather preferring those of teachers, parents and/or government officials.”[2]

MMA is delighted to note that the journalist adhered to one of the key principles found on page three of MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media, which states: “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them, so try and include them.”

As such, we applaud Lubabalo Ngcukana and City Press for writing and publishing the story respectively, and urge the journalist to continue reporting in a manner that is responsible, accesses children and puts children’s best interests above all else.

By Azola Dayile

[1] A GLAD is awarded when a journalist reports on a child responsibly and promotes his or her best interests.