If you think only sporting champions and computer geeks are getting younger by the day, think again. Journalists have also joined the gang. And they are making news for all the right reasons.
Some 1,500 cub reporters all of them school-going children have been instrumental in heralding a change in Koraput district in Orissa rated as one of the five most backward districts of the country by the Planning Commission with their reporting.
One of them, Sunita Gemel of Maliput village, even got the opportunity to participate in an international children’s forum in Beijing recently.
Other cub reporters like Nilima Behera and Upendra Banka have also gone places, thanks to their reporting skills. Both attended the Indian Social Forum held in New Delhi recently. The three cub reporters regularly write for a journal called Ankurodgam (Regeneration).
The Child Reporter Project was started as a Unicef initiative in 2005 in two blocks Patangi and Dasmantpur with 100 school children as reporters.
Now, with the help of the Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan, started by the district administration and peoples’ groups, it has spread to all 14 blocks of the district. The numbers of cub reporters has also swelled to 1,500.
Children they may be but there is nothing child-like about their reports. Most of the articles in Ankurodgam highlight the basic problems people of this district face — lack of drinking water, sanitation and health service inadequacies, inadequate number of teachers in schools, loss of forest cover and drinking habit among elders.
These children have become active campaigners of social change. And with their pen, they are slowly but surely bringing about a change for the better.