“Wonder girl Maud to start university at 14” (The Times, 04/06/2012. p.2) is the title of the article selected as this week’s GLAD1, for its positive portrayal of a 14-year-old girl amongst other things.

The article reports on Zimbabwean-born Maud Chifamba, who at the age of 14 has enrolled at university. The Times provided the child with the opportunity to express her views and pronounced the importance of her achievements by placing the story on the second page of the publication.

According to the article, Maud has had her fair share of challenges, including losing both her parents and was also “unable to sit her final Grade 7 class examination because her school was not registered by the ministry of education.”

The article promotes Maud’s right to freedom of expression and participation, upholding Article 13 and 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in so doing.

Through its model practice, The Times brings into fruition a culture and environment which hold children and their rights in high regard.2

Not a call for pity, the article challenges stereotypes about orphans as helpless victims lacking the will to alter their circumstances, “I have always wanted to be one of those professionals and it is a chance I will grasp with both hands and cherish,” Maud was quoted as saying.

The focus of the article could have easily been a nostalgic rendition of a difficult life she has lived. Instead, it is an inspiring demonstration of how a child, through her resilience and determination, managed to rid herself of the challenges she encountered.

While MMA believes that publishing this article is not a magic wand to changing how children are reported in the media, we however believe that it inspires the society and other media to give due weight to children’s views and their rights.

Kudos to The Times.

1. Media Monitoring Africa highlights cases of good and best practice, where the media has promoted the rights and welfare of children, otherwise referred to as “GLADs”
2. The Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children are available on MMA’s website:www.mediamonitoringafrica.org