In our country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the majority of children do not have access to the media in order to express their opinions and appeal to the authorities. In the city of Mbandaka, in the north-west of the country, 14 radio stations broadcast daily, but only one collaborates with children. However, article 13 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children have the right to express themselves freely. Programme managers should encourage children to come and express themselves on the radio, but instead they are not interested in children and have no intention of having them participate in their programmes.
Some children do not have the freedom to express themselves on the radio, like the pygmy and bantu children who live within the constraints of their upbringing: they must concentrate on their domestic work as their main priority. Every child should be able to seek, receive and spread their ideas. Media chiefs have a moral obligation to train young people to express themselves freely and parents must allow them to participate.
The only radio station in Mbandaka which works with children is the Mwana Community Radio, where almost half of the programmes are presented by children. Health, education, safety and cohabitation are some of the themes tackled in these programmes. On a daily basis, 45 children from all social classes are involved in Radio Mwana, and almost 80,000 listeners follow the programmes.
Children have the right to express themselves in order to promote their rights. We are asking the media to assign a space for children so that they can express themselves, appeal for their rights and make their opinions heard. Children must also understand the role that they play: just because they are getting their voices heard on the radio doesn’t mean they will be paid. Presenting programmes is about making the public aware of the rights of the child and not about making personal profit.
The future is preparing now!