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Pakistan: Children’s Television

Television as an educational tool for children in the Pashto areas: a DW-AKADEMIE team was recently in Islamabad to train Pakistani journalists on producing educational children’s television programs.

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Sohail Ahmad is originally from the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Province (KPK), a province in northwest Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. The young journalist is an editor with a local television station and now lives in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. “People in the KPK province suffer from the problems there,” he says, pointing to increased militarization, the Taliban influence, and the radicalization of Islam. Particularly those regions bordering Afghanistan are becoming more dangerous, he says, “especially for journalists. And for children.”

“Because safety is a problem in Pashto areas, many children there can’t go to school. And in Afghanistan, schools are constantly being destroyed,” says Florian Weigand, a DW-AKADEMIE project manager. In October, he spent two weeks in Islamabad training Pakistani journalists. “Learning is Fun! – Children’s Television for the Pashto Areas” is the name of the DW-AKADEMIE project supporting media in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

11.2010 DW-AKADEMIE Medienentwicklung Europa/Zentralasien Pakistan Kinderfernsehen Paschtunische Gebiete 1

Trainer Veronica Picmanova and workshop participants

“Television is very popular on both sides of the border. And for children, it can open the door to the world,” says Weigand. But the reality is different: the few children’s programs that do exist there feature mainly cartoons. However, this may soon change. In the Afghan capital, Kabul, as well as in Islamabad, Weigand and colleagues familiar with the region have begun producing children’s magazine programs together with local journalists. “We base them to some extent on successful German programs for children,” Weigand says. They’ve found that in Pashto areas the children also enjoy educational programs presented in an entertaining way.

This summer Weigand and his colleagues held workshops in Kabul and also Baragali, in northern Pakistan. Here participants filmed short reports on the different lives of children in the Pashto areas. “During the workshop they produced entire magazine programs based on these clips,” Weigand says. And they chose a child moderator, learned presentation methods and more about camera techniques, video editing, and writing for television.

Bakht Zaman also took part in the recent two-week workshop in Islamabad. He works as a journalist and as a lecturer for the University of Peshawar’s journalism and mass communication seminar. “This is all about young people,” he reflects. “And this means our feature. It’s only when we’re well-trained as journalists and teachers that we can offer something worthwhile to children and young people.”

The project offers even more than this: it brings together journalists from both sides of the border and contributes to understanding. Children’s television, adds Weigand, lies below the ‘political threshold’. “It’s an area where colleagues from Pakistan and Afghanistan can meet regardless of the political climate between their countries.” Further workshops are planned for next year.

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