Prioritising children’s voices is essential.
Principals and deputy principals play an indispensable role in the effective functioning of schools. They are responsible for setting the school’s vision, creating a conducive learning environment, and overseeing the overall management of academic and administrative affairs. Voices of children on issues pertaining to their education and lack of leadership in schools should be a top priority for society and media. Media monitoring Africa (MMA) gives News24 a Missed Opportunity(MOP) for failing to access children in an article concerning their education.
The article titled, “Eastern Cape education crisis: Concerns as 380 schools don’t have principals, 39 are without deputies”, (22/07/2024) details how a total of 380 schools in the Eastern Cape have no principals and 39 have no deputies. The article further reveals that the Eastern Cape Education Portfolio Committee has expressed outrage over this situation, which it said cripples teaching and learning. The committee disclosed that the province has a total of 1,974 vacant teaching posts, with slightly more than 5,000 schools being operated by the provincial education department. The article includes narratives with a DA party member and the MEC of Education, but it falls short in giving a voice to the children who are primarily impacted by this situation.
According to research done my MMA “only 6% of the stories monitored mentioned/involved children. This means that in 2022, only 6% of all reported stories during the monitoring period reported on children. Furthermore, the 2022 results show a decrease in coverage of children in the news when compared to the year, 2021 where the coverage was at 10%”. This decline is deeply disappointing as it neglects the significance of children’s voices, which are essential and should be prioritised in media reporting. By shedding light on their experiences, the media can advocate for better protection, policies, and resources to support children’s rights.
Ignoring children’s voices in the media is indeed a violation of their rights as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Article 13 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACRWC) Article 7. Both of these international treaties were ratified by South Africa in 1995 and 2000, respectively, making them legally binding obligations for the country to protect and uphold children’s rights. The disregard or marginalisation of children’s voices in the media constitutes a violation of the rights guaranteed by these international agreements. The media plays a crucial role in amplifying children’s voices and ensuring their perspectives are heard in public discussions. Failing to do so not only deprive children of their rights but also perpetuates a system that suppresses their agency, hindering their meaningful participation in issues that directly impact their lives.
As MMA, we strongly advocate that News24 prioritises including children’s voices when reporting on stories involving children, especially on issues that directly affect them. It is essential to recognise and respect the rights of children to express their thoughts, opinions, and experiences in the media.
News24 can contribute to a more informed, empathetic, and child-friendly media landscape in South Africa.
Written by Ntombifuthi Kubeka
 A missed opportunity is a story in which children should have been accessed but were not
 https://au.int/sites/default/files/treaties/36804-treaty african_charter_on_rights_welfare_of_the_child.pdf