DRC: UN launches New Radio Station for Children
The Strategic Communication and Public Information Division of MONUSCO, in partnership with UNICEF, launched on November 20 in Kinshasa a new radio station named "Okapi Enfant".
The radio's launch coincided with the celebration on November 20, of the World Children's Day. Indeed, the United Nations adopted on November 20, 1989 the United Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention stipulates that a child is not only a fragile being who must be protected, but a person who has the right to be educated, cared for, protected, wherever the corner of the world he is born in. And he/she also has the right to have fun, to learn and to express him/herself. It was ratified by 191 countries.
This definition of the child and the rights which are recognized to him/her form the pillar on which rests the creation of this radio station, and the whole of the objectives which it pursues.
The experience of the "Okapi School" show has led to the creation of the radio station "Okapi Enfant"
The start of 2020 was featured by the outbreak and rapid global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has also been affected. Many children then stayed at home, following Government’s barrier measures to combat the spread of the virus.
On April 26, 2020, UNICEF launched with Radio Okapi the program "Okapi School", aimed at bringing education to children in their homes. 8 million children were reached through this medium. Satisfied with the experience, the latter said they also needed a radio to open the dialogue and give the children a voice.
This request was made by UNICEF to the management of Radio Okapi in order to consider the creation of a radio station intended for children, to deal with subjects related to education, health and the promotion of the children’s rights. The radio station "Okapi Enfant" then came to light, with the objectives, according to Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in the DRC: to open in the DRC a line of dialogue with children who account for 50% of the Congolese population; to inform children about the risks associated with epidemics (COVID-19, measles, etc.) and inform children about their rights. UNICEF Representative further added that this radio station is a platform where children can learn while having fun.
Christophe Boulierac, Director of the Strategic Communication and Public Information Division of MONUSCO, for his part, underscored `` the creation of this medium is a continuum, an opportunity to strengthen our radio identity and bring children closer to their parents ... ''
“Okapi Enfant”, a communication and collaboration channel for children that meets the needs of the Government
The special guests at this launch included members of the Congolese Government, in particular the Minister of State in charge of Gender, Family and Children, Ms. Béatrice Lomeya Atilite and the Deputy Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Ms. Jeanne Ilunga Zaina.
Béatrice Lomeya Atilite noted that this year's celebration of the World Children’s Day is specific, insofar as it coincides with the launch of this radio station, and it is a major step forward. It meets a right enshrined in the Constitution, the right to information. It is a channel for children to have the right to speak, the right to express themselves.
She went on to say that the creation of this radio station for children, falls under the provision of articles 41 to 43 of the Constitution, which stipulate among other things, child’s protection. She also considers the Radio as a channel for disseminating the legal instruments governing the life of the child at national and regional level. "We will also have the opportunity through this channel to be in contact with children and parents," she highlighted.
For her colleague in charge of Environment and Sustainable Development, the radio is useful to the Government because the world is in a difficult plight. It must fight global warming. "The creation of this radio station for children gives us the opportunity to implement with schools the school garden project, in which 1 billion trees are to be planted by 2030", she said.
The radio station "Okapi Enfant" enjoys the full support of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC, Ms. Leila Zerrougui
The latest to speak among the special guests, the Head of MONUSCO first warned that when we talk about the future of the DRC, we also talk about children. It is important to prepare children for the future, to educate them, because children reflect what they receive from parents.
She announced her full support to this children's radio station, because the radio will allow children to express themselves. "It will help raise awareness of children's rights and the responsibility of the adult persons," she said.
It is worth noting that this children's radio station broadcasts on the frequency 103.2 for three hours, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Its programs, having started in Kinshasa, will quickly spread to the rest of the country, notably to seven major cities across provinces such as Goma, Bukavu and others.