June 17, 2005

PROJECTS: Children's Video Project - KENYA

Children's Video Project - Kenya

Plan Kenya is engaged in a Children's Video Project that aims to give Kenyan children a voice in advocating for their rights and development. The project helps children identify and analyse issues that impact on their development. The goal of the project is to improve communication among children, and between children and their immediate environment (parents, teachers, and development workers) and their wider environment (leaders and decision-makers).

Main Communication Strategies
Plan's central strategy is developing the video production process into a workable methodology for organising and producing videos with children. As part of the project, children determine which of the issues affecting them at home, at school, and in the community they would like to speak out about, and then produce video magazine programmes about these issues. This approach is designed to give children a voice within their community by working with them as participants in the development process, recognising that the child's perspective is different from that of the adult. This participation is an effort to empower children.

To foster this participation and reflection, the project offers children's consultation forum workshops in which children express their opinions, hopes, and desires about the world in which they live. Child-friendly participatory methodologies such as role-play, puppetry, song, dance, modeling, and drawing are used to bring out the children?s ideas and feelings. The project organisers say, "We learn whether children's rights are being respected or not, what children hope their futures will bring and how they think they can achieve their dreams." Trust and community building in the team is achieved through games, songs, and dances that involve the children and adult facilitators as equal partners.

Children also take part in production workshops during which they analyse video magazines created by children from other villages. They are introduced to basic video production techniques, from script development to camera operation.

Based on this process, children create videos that feature discussion about issues brought by the children, with a focus on the way they impact on their growth and development. These issues include a lack of toilets, street children, disease, gender discrimination, malnutrition, verbal and physical abuse, environmental pollution, and alcohol in the family. One video drama produced by the children focuses on HIV/AIDS and the way it affects them. This video is designed to create awareness about AIDS by helping viewers identify with the issues presented by their peers.

The videos created through this project are used for peer education. They are also broadcast on private and government TV channels. Children have presented the video magazines during Child Rights Day celebrations.

Development Issues

Key Points
Plan Kenya recognises that although children are at the heart of its programmes, they "can easily go unheard in a big world". The project draws its justification and rationale from three wide-ranging waves in contemporary development circles, questioning how little children are involved and participate in decision making at home, in school, or in the community. Plan notes that:
  • In many cultures, children are not given the opportunity to express themselves on issues affecting them.
  • Children lack the necessary skills and means to express themselves in a way that is effective
  • Children, parents, and development workers are often not aware that children have something useful to say. Consequently, children are reduced to passive spectators in decisions and issues that impact on them directly.
The organisers believe that children are the best commentators on their own issues and should therefore be given the skills and the opportunity to express their joys, worries, hopes and fears freely. "The video project therefore gives children an opportunity to communicate their issues and joys to other children, parents, and the community in which they live in, development workers and policy makers on the national and international stage."

According to Plan, one of the greatest programme achievements is the empowerment of the participating children. Levels of empowerment were assessed using qualitative indicators such as a raised level of confidence and self-worth, an ability to express and articulate issues, career possibilities in the media industry, and positive personal changes.

Founded in 1937, Plan International is a humanitarian organisation committed to improving the lives of poor children, their families and communities through a child-centered community development approach.

For more information, contact:
Wajuhi Kamau
Plan Kenya
Plan Kenya page on the Plan International website

Child Affective Media [PDF], paper presented by Wajuhi Kamau at the 4th International Entertainment-Education Conference, Cape Town, 2004.

Placed on the Soul Beat Africa site October 06 2004.
Placed on the Communication Initiative site April 11 2005.
Last Updated April 11 2005.

Chris Schuepp
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