It becomes apparent from reading “‘Everybody needs to heal first’” (City Press, 23/08/2015, p.8) that children are usually the most affected when tensions arise. The article, which has been selected for a GLAD1, reports on the temporary closing of a primary school in Roodepoort, Johannesburg, due to racial feuds around the appointment of the school’s principal and her deputies.
Adopting a narrative style, the journalist Sipho Masondo, highlights the implications of the incident by speaking to pupils from the school, mainly a 12-year-old girl, Lerato, who has been offered a “golden ticket”, in the form of a scholarship from a private school in Gauteng. The pupil who is three months behind her syllabus sees her chances of passing Grade 7 fading amidst the reported feud. She is quoted saying, “…I have worked so hard for this and it will be a great pity if I fail or do not achieve the marks required for the scholarship.”One of the other pupils, a classmate of Lerato’s adds, “This is sad. I would have thought these old people would fight for us to be properly educated, but no, they want to close the school.”
City Press should be commended for highlighting the repercussions of this incident on the education of the affected children. Furthermore, the paper did well by accessing the very children whose voices are usually marginalised in such instances whilst protecting their identities when they wished to not have their names published (as in the case of Lerato’s friend).
Child media monitors2 who analysed the article commented on how important such stories are in protecting children’s rights to not be named and for providing them a chance to have a say on issues that affect them. Charmaine Mothoagae (12) a child media monitor from Parkhurst Primary School says, “It is nice to see that not all journalists are denying giving children right to freedom of speech….because most of the time, we see it from the journalists’ point of view instead of the children’s point of view and we don’t know how the child feels.”
Reneilwe Peterson (13) also a child media monitor from the same school feels journalists should write more stories of this nature because, “Children’s dreams are not being fulfilled because of parents’ decisions.”
Media Monitoring Africa hopes to see more of these stories from City Press and media at large.
1. On a weekly basis, MMA highlights cases of good practice, where the media has promoted the rights and welfare of children, otherwise referred to as “GLADs”, as well as instances where the rights and welfare of children have been compromised through irresponsible media coverage, referred to as “MADs”↩
2. As part of its Empowering Children and the Media Strategy, Parkhurst Primary school participates in MMA’s Make Abuse Disappear Online Accountability Tool (MAD OAT) where learners aged between 12 and 14 are taught media literacy and media monitoring skills and monitor how media reports on children.↩