Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives a GLAD[1] to Sowetanlive for its story about a 13-year-old child’s outstanding achievement in science. The journalist, Yoliswa Sobuwa gives a voice to the child to tell her story and makes the child the central focus of the story.

Pupil saves teachers with special chalk” (Sowetanlive, 01/10/2019) is a story about Maluta Gcabashe of H.P Ngwenya Primary School in KwaZulu-Natal who took part in the 2019 Eskom Expo International Science Fair. Gcabashe reportedly won a gold medal for creating a chalk which creates less dust that the regular chalk used by teachers. The 13-year-old used eggshells, toilet roll and flour to create her chalk “which could save teachers from catching respiratory diseases like asthma”. The article reports about how the child is motivated and looks forward to pursuing her dreams of becoming a scientist one day. It is accompanied by two photographs where one of them shows the child on a table making her chalk.

The article narrates how and why Gcabashe decided to create the chalk. In a direct quote, the child says that the current chalk used at schools can cause allergies, indicating that she did research before creating her chalk.    

“When I heard about the science fair from Umkhumbane School Project, I knew that I had to come up with an idea that will be help save my community,” Maluta Gcabashe is quoted saying.

This is powerful coming from a child as it shows that there are many children out there who have great ideas in science that can change the world. The unfortunate thing is that the media has not been reporting on these children. MMA’s 2017 media monitoring report findings show that science was one of the least covered topics in that year by the media at 1 percent.[2] Therefore, it is encouraging to see this story about science receive coverage.

Congratulations to Sowetanlive and Yoliswa Sobuwa! It is great to read articles about children’s achievements especially when they are told with their perspectives. This best practice is in line with MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media. The Guidelines encourage journalists to challenge all stereotypes about children especially the ones that suggest that children are passive members of society.[3]

MMA urges Sowetanlive and the journalist to continue reporting on stories about children and afford the children an opportunity to express their views when in their best interest to do so.


By Ntsako Manganyi

[1] A GLAD is awarded to an article that reports about children in a positive way

[2] slide 5

[3] See MMA’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media developed with the input of journalists, editors and children