Youth in Action
Mingling of the Vibrant Minds
Promiti Prova Chowdhury
“Children are just like seeds. As a seed grows into a sapling and later into a plant with and appropriate amount of air, water and soil, children also flourish and showcase their talents hidden inside them if they are nurtured with proper care and given opportunities. We, the child journalists present here today are the examples of just that,” Atika and Rana, two child journalists of Children Express from Mymensingh and Rangpur respectively, spoke at the two-day long “Second Child Journalist Convention 2011.” The convention took place at the BIAM (Bangladesh Institution of Administration and Management) auditorium of the capital on May 24 and 25, 2011.
A dance performance at the Child Journalist Convention, 2011. Courtesy: CE
With the support of UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), Children Express (Shishu Prokash) organised the event. Abul Kalam Azad, MP, Ministry of Information and Cultural Affairs was the chief guest for the ceremony. Dr A A M S Arefin Siddique, Vice Chancellor, University of Dhaka and Carel de Rooy, Country Representative, UNICEF, Bangladesh, graced the inaugural session as special guests.
The programme started with a multimedia presentation from the Shishu Prokash desk, presenting the organisation success stories. With the mantra “Let the Children speak,” Children Express (CE) started its journey in 2005 with the aim to increase the participation of children in mass-media. CE activities are run by the Mass-line Media Centre (MMC) in 64 districts of Bangladesh with the support from UNICEF. Since the CE project began, it has nurtured 1,800 child journalists countrywide. In each district, 10 child journalists (five boys and five girls) form a team, supervised by a senior journalist, known as a team leader. Children under 10-18 years of age can join the team by passing a written exam and a verbal exam. The child journalists receive training in workplace ethics and the use of technical equipment such as computers, recorders and cameras. They prepare their reports outside school hours. A group report is prepared every two months and a personal report every three months.
Once the reports are finished, the team leader sends them to the CE desk in Dhaka, where they are sorted and sent to various publications for publishing. As of February 2011, 1020 reports in local newspapers and 180 reports in national newspapers have been published. The young journalists have also participated in several national and international forums to exchange views and experiences. Reports of CE journalists have brought many significant changes in different parts of the country, like establishment of schools, playgrounds, supplement of books and study equipment. Child marriage was stopped and child abusers were caught at some parts of the country.
A child Journalist during the event.
Kamrul Hasan Manju, Editor, CE and Executive Director, MMC inaugurated the session with his welcome speech. The information minister said that the government believes in free flow of information, which is why the RTI (Right to Information) Act was passed. “These juvenile faces are the future of the country. All of them might to not stick to journalism but are getting trained with the values to become a responsible citizens of the society,” said Dr A A M S Arefin Siddique.
On the second day of the programme, Moshiul Alam, Assistant Editor, The Daily Prothom Alo, Noted filmmaker Morshedul Islam, Falguni Hamid, Director of Bangladesh Shishu Academy and Arifa S Sharmin, Manager, Communication, UNICEF, Bangladesh, were the panel discussants. According to Moshiul Alam, it is a good sign that children are involved with journalism, but right now, they should concentrate primarily on their studies. At this stage they should think of it as a platform to discover their talents and skills rather than a profession. Falguni Hamid said that the reports done by child journalists of CE will be published in the publications of Shishu Academy. “The participation of children in mass media shows how broad this field has become now days. There are plenty of opportunities out there for young film makers as well,” said Morshedul Islam.
According to some of the child participants, Shishu Prokash is always speaking for the deprived or exploited children in society. Previously these issues were reported by professional adult journalists in their own style. But now, these children need the chance to address these issues in their way.
The discussions were followed by cultural shows. The members of CE entertained the audience with songs, indigenous dances, group dances, dramas and quiz shows. Performance of Close-up singer, Putul was a special attraction. Refreshments were served to all participants and the proud parents.