Children at the Erlimatt School find out more about radio and rights

09.04.2020 - 16:15 | Milena Palm

From 20th to 30th November 2019, the powerup_radio project run by the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation went on a children’s rights tour with its Livezeit competition. Before it began, the foundation drew lots to decide who would be able to take part in this radio project for free. One of the twelve winners was the Erlimatt School in Pratteln in the canton of Basel-Landschaft.

When the red light is on in the bus, the children are broadcasting live. Those outside the bus listen excitedly too.

One of the first contributions produced by the children from the Erlimatt School is their school song: «[...] Ob gross oder chli oder dick oder dünn. ob schnäll oder langsam isch egal. Ob türkisch, englisch, serbisch, italienisch und dütsch – mier alli verstönd eus glich. Denn mier sind e Schuel, mier gsehnd üs jede Tag. Mier gönd mitenand durch dick und dünn.» They sing passionately about their solidarity and how every child can be part of the community. No matter where they come from, what they look like, or what language they speak. After all, every child has the right to live free from discrimination. This is something the children at Erlimatt learnt as they prepared for the project.

«Even if the parents say no, children should have the courage to speak out.»

Alisha – Student

Standing by

Now everything is ready – Mara and Rebecca are about to go live. The segments that they are broadcasting live were prepared in class. The class was allocated a children’s right beforehand, which the children pick up on in different ways in their reports. Armed with sheets of notes and visibly nervous, they wait in the bus to make their radio debut. They go through the notes and the sequence together one more time and then both take a seat. Their final preparations hardly help them to relax, however. Now they’re on air: «Hello! My name is Rebecca, my name is Mara, and this is Radio Pestalozziii,» and the programme is underway. Once the girls have finished, the tension in their faces makes way for a proud smile.

Alicia believes it is important for children to know their rights and to stand up for them.

The children draw conclusions

From the outside, there is little sign of the tense atmosphere inside the bus. During breaktime, the children buzz around the mobile radio station like bees around their hive. Some of them listen excitedly, a «psst» here, a «psst» there. They move to the beat and sing along with the music that plays between the reports. The good atmosphere spreads to the anxious radio moderators too when they step out of the bus grinning from ear to ear. Alisha feels the excitement too. «We were on the radio – wow!», she says beaming. Her face becomes more serious as she explains just how much importance she attaches to children’s rights: «There are lots of children who do not have a good childhood because they can’t go to school, for example.» That’s why children should know their rights and stand up for them, she adds. One of these is the right of a child to express their opinion: «Even if the parents say no, children should have the courage to speak out,» the 10-year-old believes. 12-year-old Alicia did some research in class on just how different school systems can be. In her report, she decided to look in depth at the school system in Iran. School attendance is compulsory for children up to the age of eleven. After that, it is the parents’ decision and it appears that they often take girls out of school. «I don’t think that’s good at all. Everybody should have equal opportunities and the same education.» Adem also has no doubts that education is important and that every child should go to school. He discovered that two thirds of children in Ghana cannot attend school. «I think that’s really bad,» the 11-year-old declares. Without education, ultimately it’s harder to find a job, he adds. «It’s definitely better for us here in Switzerland.» Iso, Kevin and Rehad drew the same conclusion from their radio research too. «We should appreciate living in Switzerland and being able to go to school.»

«The classes had intensive discussions about the complicated children’s rights articles and made them their own.»

Samantha Kuster – Project Officer Radio Projects

Children’s rights in everyday life

Radio teacher Samantha Kuster also takes stock: «The classes had intensive discussions about the complicated children’s rights articles and took a lot of new information on board.» Some of them looked at the right to leisure, she reports, and considered it in the context of the dangers posed by online gaming. «A group of girls took a closer look at teenage pregnancy and abortion and interviewed a Swiss influencer as part of their research.» Their focus was Article 6, which obliges the signatories to protect the innate right to life of every child. Teacher Antje Kern observed that the children grasped many concepts and incorporated them in their everyday lives. «When the children are having a argument, I’ve sometimes heard one of them say ‹Hey, can you stop that? I have a right to my opinion and to express it.›» The teacher feels that the children have been able to implement the newly learned rights among themselves in a meaningful way. There were also a number of exciting As part of the project, the class also discussed the opportunities of the medium of radio at length. An important step was to find out what the children would like to report about and how to organise the reports. «We invested a lot of time in it, not least because it was important both to us teachers and the children to immerse ourselves in the world of radio,» Antje Kern explains. The teacher is proud: «All of the children were courageous enough to step up to the microphone.» Antje Kern points out that it is a long road from thinking about a subject to deciding what to broadcast to the world. «The children coped with this fantastically well and very responsibly.» debates during the intensive preparation process, including one about democracy. Antje Kern thinks that this interaction is very worthwhile as the children are now more aware of their rights.

What exactly is «ida on air»?

In the radio project "ida on air" young people create their own radio programmes on gender and interreligious topics. They deal with role models and reflect on their own and other world views and religions. The project takes place in cooperation with the Competence Centre for Integration and Equality of the Canton of St. Gallen and is therefore subsidised. "ida on air" directly addresses questions concerning homophobia and transphobia, identity and values, equality and discrimination, stereotypes and diversity, regulations and rituals or religion and world views. Thus the project hits the core of the time. Not only the independent thinking of the young people is encouraged, but also their sensitivity for social diversity and different life models. Through the medium of radio, the young people also take responsibility for their contributions and are given a platform to express their opinions. School classes, groups of extracurricular youth work, youth associations, youth organisations or cultural associations from the Canton of St. Gallen can participate.