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The Star’s in-depth coverage on children’s issues applauded

27 July 2016

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is pleased to give a GLAD1  to The Star for its series of articles highlighting pressing issues affecting children locally and internationally.

In the first article, “Focus on SA’s undocumented children” (The Star, 24/06/2016, p.2), the journalist, Gabi Falanga, highlights the challenges facing undocumented minors. Referencing the story of a six-year-old child, who is given the pseudonym Nkateko, the article outlines the implications of statelessness and the subsequent vulnerability from living under such conditions. According to the article, Nkateko has no nationality although he was born to South African parents. The reason he is stateless is “... because his mother didn’t have documents ...” to register his birth. The article clearly highlights and interprets inadequacies in South African law and its implications for children like Nkateko who aren’t necessarily refugee children but are living without documents of identification.

The second article, “Schooling hampered by big classes, research shows” (The Star, 29/06/2016, p.8) illustrates how overcrowded classes affect pupils’ literacy milestones in the foundation phase and later in their schooling. The journalist, Bernadette Wolhuter accesses a Stellenbosch education researcher and referrers to a study by another professor from the same university. 

This article puts an emphasis on the research which brings attention to difficulties associated with teaching young children to read in overcrowded classes. For instance, the article states that although the ideal size for teaching young pupils is a maximum of 35 in a class, “...In Limpopo and the Eastern Cape, 27 percent of foundation-phase pupils were in very large classes – with more than 45 pupils,” painting a dire situation in schools across the country.

Lastly, The Star also dedicated a full page to articles written by UNICEF’s representative in South Africa, Herve Ludovic de Lys who based his writing on UNICEF’s 2016 State of the World’s Children report. The feature, which was accompanied by a number of photographs portraying children positively, was a clear and concerted effort by The Star to shift the attention to children. The first article in the series, “Helping the last first: a vital choice” (The Star, 29/06/2016, p.13) talks about how children across the globe, especially sub-Saharan Africa are affected by inequity and how this can be fought by focusing first on those children most affected by issues such as lack of nutrition and access to health services.

The feature further gives brilliant insight into the lives of children in conflict-torn regions such as Syria, Central African Republic, and South Sudan in an article titled “Syria’s armed conflict impacting on education” (The Star, 29/06/2016, p.13). This article brings to light how conflict can impede the progress on education systems or access to education for children.

The wide-angled approach of this feature not only considered the more obvious results of inequity in a child’s life but also had a focus on physical development. In “The developing brain: an early window of opportunity for learning” (The Star, 29/06/2016, p.13) the newspaper delved into questions of health and nutrition to show how these issues can have a long-term effect on a child’s brain and general developments even before the child can reach a school going level.

It is gratifying to see that The Star is making a conscious effort to bring awareness to various pertinent issues facing children and has considered the importance of accurate and relevant information by referencing the latest findings from different experts and studies. We hope to continue reading such articles on children in future as their challenges need to be brought to light to catch the attention of policymakers and other relevant stakeholders.

By Motshabi Hoaeane

1A GLAD is a mark of credibility given to children’s’ stories covered by the media which highlights children’s rights and issues in an ethical way. The rights and welfare of children have to be demonstrably promoted in the article