After years of civil war it is quieter than ever in Burundi. People feel safe and are rebuilding the country together. Young Burundians play an important part in this, yet media hardly pay attention to young people and their rights, even though it is the media in particular that can offer young people the possibility to stand up for their rights. They can, but to do that, producers must first find out how they can involve children and young people in their programmes. Reason enough for Free Press Unlimited to organise training.

Free Press Unlimited trains local radio producers to create educational and participative radio programmes. Radio programmes that are tailored to children and young people so that crucial information is available to them. In addition, children and young people learn to create their own content, which is then broadcast by the radio stations. It is not until their voices are heard that children and young people can stand up for the rights and wishes. 

A place for young people

Corruption at school and working to support your parents versus schooling; these are conversation topics in Ndafise Ikibanza, a monthly radio programme for young people. Ndafise Ikibanza is Kirundi for “I have a place” and is broadcast on national radio. Since radio for children and young people is still a very new concept in Burundi, the producers are trained before they get started with participative educational programmes. Redouan Harrak is a trainer for Free Press Unlimited: “The training does not focus on making radio for children and young people, but making radio together with children and young people. Do not fill anything in, but let the children speak. When you involve children and young people, it sometimes turns out that producers do not know what this group wants at all.”

Media-monitoring

Today, children and young people are practically absent from the Burundian media. When they do appear in the news, they are often portrayed as victims, whereas these young people, despite sadness and war, are actually the ones who want to move forward. Free Press Unlimited works together with local organisations to monitor the media. In workshops, Free Press Unlimited confronts media with their often negative reports on children and young people, and shows them a different way. This way, Free Press Unlimited wants to initiate change. Because young people and children only really participate when we are talking with them, not just about them.