Citizen journalism set to grow

Young people’s participation in citizen journalism is set to grow after the setting up of a project which saw youths from across the country receiving free mobile phones last week.

Under the “You Report” programme, the youths were expected to write and publish stories on issues affecting them using the phones. All child parliamentarians benefited from donated handsets from Econet Wireless. The project is being co-ordinated by the United Nations Children’s Fund , working together with the Zimbabwe Youth Council.

Youth Council director Livingstone Dzikira told The Zimbabwean that the project would provide an invaluable platform for interaction on pertinent issues by the young. “It will enable young people all around the country to give us a quick feedback on the usefulness and availability and efficiency of services being offered. These could range from education, even the youth fund, to health,” he said.

The programme follows a similar one in Uganda and emphasises the importance of harnessing the “tremendous opportunities offered by mobile phone technology”, said Marc Rubin, the UNICEF deputy representative in Zimbabwe.

“We need to know what’s going on so that the decisions that have to be made by policy makers are informed by what’s happening on the ground,” Dzikira said, adding that there were plans to expand the project to cover youths outside the junior parliament.

But Constance Chigwamba, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, warned the youths of the dangers of mobile phones. “They can be disruptive to learning and expose young people to pornography. I hope they will be put to good use,” she said.

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