The Fourth Estate
During the first week of December, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) hosted a selected group of children at the annual retreat to teach them the key role of freedom of expression in a democracy. “There is a growing recognition of the various ways in which the media can contribute to, or transform, the roles and relationships experienced by children and youth. And in fulfilling our mandate to advocate for freedom of expression, media freedom and access to information in the Southern African Development Community, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Namibia Chapter includes children and youth as beneficiaries of and active members in our various programmes” said the local MISA dirrector, Natasha Tibinyane. The first week of December was a hive of activity for MISA hosting the Regional Children’s Reporting Awards on 06 December, and the THINKB4ULOL Youth Media Action Group’s annual retreat from 02 to 05 December.
Supported by the United Nations Communication Group (UNCG), the retreat focused on how children and the youth can foster democracy and human rights through the use of media. It provided a platform for young people to be encouraged and trained to use media as a tool for active citizenship, and enable them to ascertain their identities and roles as individuals, and as part of a critical mass in a democratic society. Facilitated by Tibinyane, Child Rights Officer Lizette Feris, Unicef’s Judy Matjila and the Namibia Institute for Democracy’s Patrick Sam, it was attended by 22 participants between the ages of 12 and 21. Awareness was raised on the various forms of media and their roles in democracy and human rights, as well as how youth participation is a fundamental human right. The retreat began with the development of baseline indicators on participants’ experience of democracy and human rights through mainstream media; thereafter they explored platforms for the consumption, production and dissemination of issue-based media for and by youth.
The retreat was concluded with the production of content for television, print, radio and social media by the participants. “Through our work on the THINKB4ULOL and the Children & the Media Project, MISA Namibia endeavours to promote quality media production for and by children and youth; analyse and advocate for an improvement in the representation of youth and youth issues in the media; raise awareness on the sensitivities of media representation of youth; and promote the recently launched Namibian Children’s Declaration on Access to Information” said Tibinyane.