Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives a Missed Opportunity[1] to IOL for its article that celebrates children’s initiatives in science and technology but unfortunately, excludes the voices of children.

The story, “SA pupils ignite World Space Week with rocket launch” (IOL, 14/10/2021) reports on an international event called World Space Week and the opportunity which was given to South African children to join the event and  learn more about space through engagement with a United States of American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) veteran.  The article also reports about a launch of a water rocket which happened at the Cape Academy of Maths, Science, and Technology. The story is accompanied by an image of two smiling pupils, Amaal Kimmieand Lucia-Jane Davis from the Cape Academy of Maths, Science and Technology. The two learners are behind the water rocket invention. Unfortunately, despite being named and photographed, the two children are not interviewed.

The coverage of such a story by IOL is commendable as the journalist tried to show the commitment to mathematics, science, and technology that the children in the article have. However, IOL missed an opportunity to include the voices of children who have an experience with mathematics, science and technology especially the two learners who invented the water rocket. Accessing the children for their views would have empowered those children as well as other pupils as they would be hearing from their fellow peers.

MMA’s 2020 research showed that only 7% of stories about children accessed children for their views.[2] The IOL article then furthers the negative trend of children’s voices being ignored in the media. MMA gives this story a MOP because the journalist talks about children, but their voices are not heard.

Furthermore, the failure by IOL to include the child’s perspectives to the story violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)[3] and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACRWC)[4] articles 13 and 7 respectively, both of which South Africa ratified.

MMA encourages IOL to continue reporting on stories which involve children and to pay attention to the inclusion of the children’s voices especially when in the children’s best interests.

Written by Jacques Ndong

Edited by Lister Namumba

[1] A missed opportunity is a story in which, for instance, children should have been accessed but are not.