MISA Lesotho, with the financial support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Lesotho, brings you the second edition of Children Speak Out – a special newspaper exclusively reporting about adolescents’ issues. The first edition was published in December 2019.
Last year’s edition of Children Speak Out was premised under the World Children’s Day celebrations themed For Every Child Every Right. The celebrations also marked 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC30). The stories published in the newspaper were the result of a training of 30 adolescents on child rights and media. The 30 children were identified from seven districts of Lesotho and brought together under a programme, Children and the Media.
This year, Children Speak Out brings you a reflection of several months of difficult work amid the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic. In May, MISA Lesotho was faced with a mammoth task of introducing the first-ever technological platform for adolescents to voice their opinion in an organised manner never experienced in Lesotho before. Although U-Report was already operational in around 70 countries by May 2020, it was yet to be introduced and operationalized in Lesotho.
A copy of the newspaper is available to view below:
U-Report is a social media platform for adolescents to communicate issues of their concern with the aim of engaging authorities, especially policymakers. It is an initiative by UNICEF. MISA Lesotho is an implementing partner.
In May, amid the Covid-19 hard lockdown, MISA Lesotho was supposed to figure out how to engage over 700 young Basotho countrywide in a meaningful campaign to introduce U-Report Lesotho. Despite the prevailing state of affairs, MISA Lesotho had a target of visiting the ten districts and conduct workshops for young Basotho aged between 12 and 24 years. MISA Lesotho had a target of having a minimum of 3500 adolescents as regular users of U-Report Lesotho (U-Reporters) by May 2021.
To meet these targets, MISA Lesotho first identified two influential characters as the main drivers of U-Report Lesotho. Ayesha Khuele, an aspiring filmmaking student at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, and musician Sekonyela ‘Q-Real’ Qaitsane were confirmed U-Report Lesotho Ambassadors. A team of Children in Media Ambassadors (those trained in previous years) was also organised to work hand-in-hand with the two U-Report Ambassadors.
Through productions of video and audio jingles, as well as rigorous use of both the mainstream media (radio, tv and newspaper) and new media (social media), the team was able to attract more than 400 young Basotho into becoming U-Reporters even before the district-to-district campaign events started in September 2020.
With the gradual relaxation of the lockdown restrictions, MISA Lesotho was able to begin district-to-district campaigns in September, starting with Maseru where 107 adolescents were classified and trained on U-Report at MISA Lesotho premises in Happy Villa.
Since then, the MISA Lesotho U-Report team has conducted campaign workshops in seven districts comprising Mafeteng, Berea, Mohale’s Hoek, Quthing, Butha-Buthe and Thaba-Tseka. A total of 562 young Basotho have received the training in the seven districts. More than 4000 adolescents are U-Reporters already. The team is yet to visit and conduct workshops in Mokhotlong, Qacha’s Nek and Leribe in 2021.
On October 15th 2020, the MISA Lesotho U-Report team held a media workshop for 25 journalists in Maseru. The media practitioners were as well trained on U-Report, child rights, children and the media, as well as children and the use of the internet. Most stories in this publication are authored by journalists from this workshop, who has since committed to prioritizing children’s issues in their everyday reporting duty.
This edition of Children Speak Out celebrates the challenges and achievements in the narration above. Equally important, this edition commemorates World Children’s Day 2020 under the theme: Investing in our Future means Investing in our Children.
MISA Lesotho wishes to extend heartfelt gratitude to UNICEF Lesotho for supporting these children programmes over the years. Further appreciations are directed to the parents who were corporative enough to allow their children to participate in U-Report and World Children’s Day activities. MISA Lesotho cannot overlook school principals and teachers, district education officers and district administrators who committed to working harmoniously with the institute to make these programmes a success.
Lastly, but not least, are different media houses, most notably the community radio stations, that continue to contribute to the success of the projects of MISA Lesotho and UNICEF Lesotho.
Until we meet again, investing in our future means investing in our children!
Nkoale Oetsi Tšoana, MISA Lesotho Chairperson