CHILDREN'S RIGHTS IN TANZANIA
In view of the importance of the life and welfare of the children in Tanzania, Radio Tumaini is embarking on sensitizing the nation in finding out ways of solving problems facing our children. A study was carried out with the objective of getting a clearer understanding of the problems. The findings of that study established that Tanzanian children continue to be exploited, unprotected and exposed to a lot of harzards. Thus, for instance, children continue to be employed on slavewage in small-scale mining, factories, plantations and in households. Radio Tumaini will collaborate with the government and NGOs, like PEC, to sensitize the society on the plight of children and their rights. We intend to enhance our efforts in acting as advocates of children in articulating their problems and seeking remedial solutions. We intend to present programmes through which children's-voices will be heard clear and loud. Our programmes in this respect will target parents, and other members of the society with a responsibility on child care.
Mass media is one of the best and effective tools through which enriching messages can easily reach the seemingly unreachable. PEC for instance, is an NGO which for seven years has been conducting children programmes in various media, including Radio Tumaini. In March for example, PEC conducted a radio programme on child labour and its consequences and some piece on children's rights.
Notwistanding what we have managed to achieve todate, we face financial problems for the smooth running of such programmes. For this reason we need assistance to enable us succeed in this endeavour.
Background of the Problem
According to the convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) a child has a right to survive, protection, grow, development and participation. As mentioned earlier, a substantial number of children in Tanzania, many children are deprived of those basic rights. To some extent, their upbringing in accordance with some cultures and customs has contributed to this problem. When one considers the ignorance, coupted with the poverty among some parents, the perception of children's rights in such communities is below the benchmarks of the CRC. Thus, todate one finds children who are deprived of access to education and basic health services, habve insufficient (or none) intake of balanced diety. In the extreme, some are even denied of the right to associate with other children and other members of the community.
A study undertaken by Radio Tumaini also found out that children are not protected from physical abuses, including sexual abuses. The society does not appear to pay sufficient attention on such problems. The plight of street children is appaling. Various reasons have been advanced to explain what pushes the children into the streets. Some of the reasons given, were lack of parent(s), ill-treatment by foster-parents, lack of or insufficient food and other such necessities of life, poverty, broken marriages, government cuts in social spending. As to how much such reasons are true, is an issue to be discused.
Children live in horrible environments where they are exposed to infectious diseases, such as chorela, HIV/AIDS, harrassment from adults and some policemen and other authorities. This vioiceless and vulnerable group of children has no power to defend itself from those dangers, because they are dependants.
In the year 1989, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Convention on the Rights of Children. Tanzania ratified the Convention on 26th May 1991. The Convention applies to all children equally, without regard to the country where they come from, race, sex, language, ethnic, or social origin, property, disability, birth, religion or any other status. However, notwithstanding its retification, how much the convention has helped to relieve the problems of children in the country, remains to be discussed.
Research undertaken in Tanzania by Radio-Video Tumaini, conclusively suggests that, the plight of children whose voices are yet to be heard, has to be addressed. To begin with, the voices of the so called disadvantaged children, (including orphans, street children, child labourers in harzadous occupations etc.) needs to heard for the Tanzanian society to get a first-hand account of the life experiences of such children. For such a programme to succeed there is need for some transmission media. Radio Tumaini wishes to take up this challenge of reaching to out to the society, so that such voices can be heard and subsequently acted upon.
There are many definitions of a child in terms of age. It mostly depends on the society concerned, government or non-governmental organisation. All in all, however one may wish to define a child, the baseline is that, a child cannot depend on his/her own for basic needs of life, like food, shelter, education etc. So that, the question is, who then is responsible for providing children such basic needs? Obviously, it is the parents, members of the society or community, government, non-governmental organisations etc. In fact, every adult person is responsible.
The Goal of Children Programmes
Radio Tumaini, as is the case with other Radio Stations, believes that media messages once heard, are transformed to action through a continuous process of telling and retellling, interpretation and reinterpretation, commentary, laughter, criticism and by maintaining messages and routinely incorporating them into their lives. Invariably then, the more often such programmes are broadcast, they finally contribute in moulding the society's mindset in understanding the respective themes of the programmes and are thus better prepared in taking the requisite remedial actions on the problems facing disadvantaged children in our country. A sensitized society is more receptive and cooperative in addressing problems afflicting their society. Appropriate radio programmes are important ingredients in this respect.
Objectives of the Study on Children's Rights
The main objective of the study was to get a clearer picture of problems facing children. To establish better ways of sensitizing people comprehend fully, that each individual is responsible for children, and hence the need for taking action. A good part of the Tanzanian society is not sufficiently knowledgeable on children's rights and hence has not grasped its full responsibility in addressing the problem squarely. There is therefore, the need for educating the society as recommended:-
Action Plan (Strategies of Implementation).
Radio Tumaini is intending to air live programmes that will involve children themselves and their parents, for intance, through monitored telephone discussions wherever they are, and through our famous programme Chimbachimba. Some of our staff members will be visiting children in schools, homes, street children centres, orphanages and sometimes in streets and even in refugee camps. Also parent groups will be invited to give their perspective on the protection of their children and other rights through live programmes like Chimbachimba. In some cases, our staff will also be visiting parents in their homes to get and feel of life in the home, both the traditional and the modern one. Such programmes will provide an on-the-spot accout of children at home in contrast to those on the street or other undesirable places. Both Audio and Video documentaries will be prepared to facilitate better understanding of the situation of children in Tanzania.
People will also be given chance to give their opinions or suggestions on how to improve the life of children. On the other hand, children will always be given an opportunity to tell or speak out their feelings, aspiration and experience of life as children. Seminars, workshops and meetings will be conducted by involving both parents and children. Some professionals will also be invited to contribute in such programmes.
Our plan of action, whose inputs include transport, renting of halls for meetings, seminars, workshops, printing documents and leaflets/booklets, consultation is constrained with limited financial resources necessary in facilitating implementation of the requisite programmes. In view of this situation we are stretching our hands to friends to join us in extending assistance that will enable us achieve this noble objective.
In cognisance of the vast experience Institution/Government has, in matters pertaining to the welfare of children worldwide, we believe we can gain immensely on their guidance and assistance in the children's programme. We accordingly request you for assistance.
In the children's programmes Radio Tumaini will give priority to children themselves to express their feelings, aspirations and whatever contributions they can make to the family, community and the nation at large.
There will be need to establish teams or working groups, including the vulnerable groups it centers for street children, parents and members of families with troubled children.
The contribution of your Institution/Government, in terms of participating in some programmes will be sought.
The voiceless group (children) will be encouraged to narrate their plight using their own voices. The objective of such an approach is to get first hand facts from the victims themselves.
Wewill seek to hear from members of society, government and organisations and non-Governmental organisations from their respective perspectives.
We propose 40-minutes programme to be aired once or twice a week.
Apart from other programmes, currently Radio Tumaini has also 2 hours program for children on every Saturday at 10.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. when they are given an opportunity to share with others their feelings of joy, sorrow and other experience of life generally. They also get an opportunity to hear what their peers feel, aspire and experience, and cap it with sending greetings to their parents, relatives and friends 'live' through monitored telephones.
Programmes on Radio Tumain normally planned annually, except for special occassional programmes which may call for adjusting the programme plans as necessary. The radio is on air 24 hours daily throughout the year, save for seldom technical problems.
Evaluation of Radio Tumaini Radio programmes is an often exercise, involving all staff members and a cross-section of listener. Such evaluation involving outsiders is undertaken once annually. This provides an opportunity for outsiders to give opinions, advice and suggestions on our programmes. Nonetheless, throughout the year, the radio receives opinions/suggestion from listeners which are acted upon accordingly by our staff. Internal evaluations are also undertaken weekly and monthly. So that throughout the year, our programmes are subjected to evaluation of one form or the other.