On 13 February 2015, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) joined the rest
of the world in marking the fourth annual World Radio Day. This year’s theme was
‘Youth and Radio’ – which examined how young people could be better represented
through the medium.
The director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organisation (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, remarked that youth are underrepresented in
the media and that there are not enough programmes produced by and aimed at the
Radio is considered the most accessible medium, even amongst disadvantaged
groups. This serves as a platform for young men and women to express themselves,
which is especially important in Africa where 69% of the population is under the age
MISA’s regional director, Zoe Titus, pointed out that radio is important in areas
where literacy rates are low, in order for information to reach people in those regions. The
2014 literacy rates revealed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics revealed that the
total youth literacy rate in sub-Saharan Africa is 69%, and is 10% lower for adults.
“With a higher level of literacy, the youth have a chance to be more involved in
content generation and making information available for people in their
communities, especially for those who are illiterate,” said Titus. “At MISA, we take
the youth’s rights to freedom of expression and access to information seriously, and
are very involved in programmes to help children in southern Africa realise these
MISA is of the view that a young population is a potential resource that can lead to
innovation and support governance and development. MISA believes that the media
provides an ideal platform for the sharing of ideas between young people and
MISA has partnered with Save the Children International to deliver the Children &
the Media Project, which aims to use media produced by children as an advocacy
tool to trigger discussion, raise awareness on children’s issues and rights, and
influence the way in which the media portray and report on children.
Children under this programme have produced radio shows and documentaries
where they are allowed to investigate different issues they consider important for
their generation, such as parental influence in their choice of careers or bullying of
teachers in school. Children in the future will be allowed to decide how they plan to
make use of these shows that they have produced.
In Namibia, the Namibian Chapter of MISA (MISA Namibia) has proven through its
Think B4 U LOL Youth Media Action Group that young Namibians are eager to
become active participants in structures and processes that affect them and their
The youth bring innovative ideas and contribute to a diversity of opinions, and if
they’re given the space and security to contribute to radio content, it will benefit not
only them but also the wider community.