Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) awards a GLAD[1] to Saturday Star for its article which brings to light an important issue allegedly faced by children in Model C schools, the issue of racism. The article is selected as a GLAD because the journalist highlights an issue not often reported on, portrays the children in the story as active citizens with agency and, includes to the story, pupils’ voices.  All this is important in such a story as it shows children in empowering roles and brings attention to a critical issue faced by children.

The article, “Racial discrimination at elite Model C schools exposed” (13/06/2019, p.1) by Chelsea Geach, is about Cape Town learners from various Model C schools who speak out on racism and discrimination that take place at their schools. In the article, pupils reveal that this racial discrimination and homophobia is perpetuated by their teachers, parents and fellow pupils .The discrimination led one of the schools named in the article to join hands in protest and write out demands on the changes they want to see happen at their school. Another school, also named, reportedly “dealing with a similar crisis “, created a petition which attracted a reported 4000 signatures. The article reports that the learners took to social media where they shared their experiences and gained the support of other fellow and former students who were also alleged victims. In the article, it is revealed that “Muslim pupils [are] being called terrorists and black and colored pupils [are] being told they will grow up to be criminals”.

The memorandum of demands presented by one of the schools to the school administration reads in part, “Once inside our gates, discrimination runs rampant, it is perpetrated by the boys, staff and parents, with the whispers of inequity echoing through the corridors and classrooms.”

By quoting the memorandum which had testimonies of the learners, the journalist upheld the children’s right freedom of speech, which is outlined in The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).[2] South Africa ratified the ACRWC in 2000. Article 7 of the Charter states, “Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by law.”

Saturday Star provided space in its publication for an important issue faced by children in which the children’s voice is present and for this, MMA commends the publication. MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media[3] states that, “Children have a right to have their views heard on matters that affect them.”

We applaud the newspaper for this excellent reporting and encourage other media to follow such practice of reporting on such issues where children are speaking and taking on the role of active citizens with agency. Well done!

By Girlie Sibanda

[1] A GLAD is awarded when journalists report positively on children and respect and promote the rights of those children

[2] (See page 3)

[3] (See page 3)