With the goal of attaining a sustainable approach to mentoring, the Children’s Legal Bureau in the Philippines arranged for their radio programme Ang Kabataan Karon (The Youth of Today) to incorporate mentoring sessions on radio advocacy every Saturday. This was done with resources which were originally intended for the now concluded programme Down to Zero – Building Back Better, making the initiative very cost effective and an excellent way to center youth and children as agents of change. The programme broadcasted relevant discussions surrounding child and youth issues, while also offering a participatory, collaborative, and engaging experience for child rights’ advocates.
Down to Zero was formed as an alliance between Terre des Hommes Netherlands, Plan International Netherlands, Defiance for Children – ECPAT, Free a Girl, and ICCO, with the goal of ending Sexual Exploitation of Children in twelve countries in Asia and Latin America.
Down to Zero implemented two programmes: Voice for Change and Building Back Better, enabling children and young people to defend their own rights (positioning them as central agents of change); support communities to become safer and protect children against sexual exploitation. This took place from 2016 to 2021.
As the Down to Zero programme came to an end in 2021, the Children’s Legal Bureau in the Philippines looked into maintaining mentoring sessions and meetings with child rights’ advocates, while also transitioning to a more sustainable way of mentoring.
The Children’s Legal Bureau has always believed in children’s right to participate. With this in mind, they regularly broadcast a radio programme called Ang Kabataan Karon (which translated to English from Cebuano, the language spoken in the southern Philippines, means The Youth of Today). This radio programme is supported and funded under the Strengthen Counter Trafficking in Persons project.
This programme is a venue in which child rights’ advocates serve as hosts and anchors (with the assistance from the Children’s Legal Bureau), while practicing advocacy, meeting other pioneers, and sharing experiences and lessons learned.
Only a few pioneer child’s rights advocates have been trained on radio advocacy, and so the Children’s Legal Bureau sought to have these pioneer and trained advocates mentor other members (who had little to no exposure to radio). During these mentoring sessions, not only child and youth participation is highlighted, but also the value of peer-to-peer mentoring. The key implementers and participants of these programmes were therefore the child rights’ advocates who are still learning, along with the pioneer and trained child rights’ advocates who served as mentors.
The radio programme is aired live every Saturday at one o’clock in the afternoon by the DYRF 1215 radio station. It is also streamed live through Facebook on both the DYRF 1215 and the Children’s Legal Bureau’s page. The mentoring sessions were carried out every Saturday between 19 February and 14 May, 2022.
As part of the planning, a schedule is provided to all member child rights’ advocates from Argao, Balamban, Compostela, City of Naga and Lapulapu City, so they can choose which Saturday they are available. The same schedule is then provided to pioneer and trained child rights’ advocates so they can fill in their availability to serve as mentors. Once the schedules have been planned, members choose a topic based on their advocacy plans – although they are free to choose, the topics must be timely and relevant among children and youth issues.
Afterwards, the pupil and mentor draft a script highlighting the topic, goals of the session and discussion points, which include questions and answers surrounding the chosen topic. On the scheduled Saturday, there is a morning workshop (at the Children’s Legal Bureau office) dedicated to showing the pupil how to do radio hosting and anchoring. Then they do a practice run as if they were in the radio booth. Half an hour before the scheduled time, they travel to the radio station accompanied by staff from the Children’s Legal Bureau. After the programme, the group will communicate their experience and areas that can be improved upon.
“I was nervous at the start. But later on, my nervousness faded. I feel confident now to anchor on the radio”, expressed one of the members. This was a very common experience, and the mentors helped in making the experience easier, by making sure that the pupils were comfortable while on the air. Mentors also made sure to avoid dead air (moments of unintended silence). Although some of the members expressed that they were not very confident yet, they were willing to join more mentoring sessions, so that their confidence could increase.
This practice effectively centered youth and children as agents of change against sexual exploitation of children. In addition, with radio as the medium, their advocacy plans surrounding prevention and response were shared (including helpful information, such as red flags or where to report), and discussions on relevant child and youth issues were broadcasted.
The following were the factors that facilitated the success of the programme:
- Choosing the topic and drafting the script gave the members the freedom and the right to actively participate in sharing and discussing child and youth issues.
- The mentors had the opportunity of playing a more mature role, and they were able to share their thoughts and ideas when mentoring the other members.
- The pupils gained experience on how to do radio hosting and anchoring, and their communication skills were enhanced.
- The members were able to share what they learned with others.
- The friendly and comfortable atmosphere during the workshop and broadcasting enhanced the members’ capacity to collaborate with each other, despite coming from very different areas.
In conclusion, radio advocacy training and mentoring was greatly appreciated, as it facilitated a participatory, collaborative and engaging experience among the child rights’ advocates (for both members and mentors). The project was, in addition, very cost effective: it made use of resources that were originally destined for the Down to Zero – Building Back Better project (which had just ended) while having the very similar goal of centering youth and children as agents for change.