21 October 2013: Mangochi, on the shores of Lake Malawi, was the venue for the latest in a series of workshops on children's rights and journalism practice organised by the School of Media and UNICEF.

18 members of the Journalism Department of the University of Malawi's Polytechnic Institute participated in the programme led by DIT's Michael Foley, Noirin Hayes and Brian O'Neill.

The joint DIT/UNICEF initiative is designed to embed awareness of children's rights among students of journalism in developing democracies.

Participating lecturers will adapt their syllabi to reflect a new focus on children's issues in this poverty-stricken and underdeveloped region.

Through training the next generation of journalists, the project aims to achieve a more sustainable improvement in journalistic standards and an ethical approach to representing children in the media.

The Child Rights and Journalism Practice initiative is now in its fifth year. Originally commissioned by UNICEF for the East European region and the former republics of the Soviet Union, the DIT syllabus is now taught in 14 countries and 25 universities around the world.

UNICEF's Regional Office in Nairobi supported its adaptation for Eastern and Southern Africa.  The syllabus has as a result now been introduced in Mozambique, Madagascar and Malawi with further interest from other countries including Zambia, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.

The University of Malawi's Polytechnic plans to introduce children's rights into its courses in human rights, news writing for print and broadcasting, investigative journalism and specialist journalism projects.  Children's rights will also be a focus for a new community radio service to be launched by the Department at its campus in Blantyre in southern Malawi.

The Irish Embassy in the capital, Lilongwe, has warmly welcomed the introduction of the syllabus. Malawi is one of nine programme countries supported by Irish Aid. Among its projects in this predominantly agricultural and poor country are fighting food insecurity due to climate change, malnutrition and shaping better farming practices. Another focus of Irish Aid's work in the region is supporting democratic governance and fighting corruption, something which DIT's journalism initiative will greatly enhance.

Details of the Child Rights Syllabus are available on the UNICEF website: http://www.unicef.org/ceecis/resources_18244.html




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