Friday, October 22, 2010

The Case for Children's News Programmes

Imagine regular news programmes for children
While advertising and entertainment programmes have begun to cater to children's needs, for some reason news channels have ignored children altogether! Imagine a regular children's news programme, at a fixed time, presented in a lively way, as something for children to look forward to daily. It could be on radio and better still, on TV.

What such programmes could contain
While national and international events would figure in it, children's news would focus on the world as seen by children. Background information would make the news more accessible, along with activities that can be done at home or school. There might even be discussions and debates on issues that children have views and opinions on, along with scope to engage with the channel through phone calls / sms / email.

Newspapers too
And perhaps newspapers would follow with some space for children's news, based on what came on TV the previous night. This would not only enable greater understanding of the news itself, it would greatly boost higher order literacy (apart from newspaper circulation). This would also provide teachers with more current material for use in different classes across a range of subjects!

Many benefits
The immediate benefits for the channels themselves would be in terms of developing loyal viewers for the future (and perhaps an expanded revenue source through increased advertising range).

However, the longer term implications for children themselves, for society and the country would be enormous.

  • Children who have had the opportunity to engage with a world beyond their immediate environment would develop cognitively and socially (well exceeding the abysmal levels attained at present!) 
  • Focusing the programming at special groups (e.g. girls, or children with disabilities or the rural poor or those who need help to learn the state language - such as tribal children - or English) would dramatically increase learning opportunities for the marginalized and the disadvantaged.
  • Wide spread use of such programmes would also help harness the demographic dividend India has at the present.

If handled sensitively, this could help create a nation where plurality is cherished and the narrow confines of identity are not allowed to become a source of conflict.

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