November 18, 2006

The role of newspapers in the life of children

Take this quiz question. What is the name of the mascot of the cricket World Cup 2007?
We aren't offering you an all-paid-expense trip prize to the West Indies.
But we are wondering if cricket can help our young people in schools to improve their education.
One newspaper did just this some time ago.
It tapped into the football World Cup in an effort to educate students.
The Newspaper, a UK-based newspaper exclusively for young readers, started what it called the World Football Reading Passport project.
This project was inspired by the World Newspaper Reading Passport idea promoted by the World Association of Newspapers.
Newspapers all over the world are concerned at the feeble interest that young people have in newspapers and are working hard to attract new readership.
The Newspaper of the UK found that more than 150,000 children were using these unique passports.
This was the first project of its kind which got children to read the sports pages of newspapers.
This is how the passport idea works.
Children create the passport out of smartly designed forms printed in a newspaper.
They then go on to collect 'visas' from their teachers or resource people by completing certain tasks which involve newspaper reading.
In this case, the children, most of whom must have caught the World Cup fever, were encouraged to read lots on football, and get as many visas as they could.
Today. the passport idea of getting young people to use newspapers as yet another form of education is popular in countries like Indonesia, Norway and Ghana.
There is so much that can 'happen'for the child - learn new words, improve writing skills, get a visual sense, use hot topics for debate and discussion, run opinion polls, relate the event to the neighbourhood or just have a 'spelling bee' contest!
All based on a subject that is popular - football.
As the promos and curtain-raisers on the World Cup in West Indies begin to dominate the sports pages, our schools could run successful programmes, internationally called 'Newspaper in Education' or NiE.
My experience of working with children to write on our neighbourhood for our special issues tells me that our young people know very little of the 'little' world. But if they are inspired, they enjoy the experience!

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