‘Learn the News’ makes kids globally aware

2011-05-13 00:00

PUPILS at Cowan House Co-educational Preparatory School in Hilton immersed themselves in world news this week when they illustrated hot-off-the-press stories for a newspaper that presents news especially written for their age group.

Learn the News, which is produced by the South African Press Association (Sapa) and goes out free of charge on e-mail, avoids the sensationalism that fills the mainstream media, but finds ways to address important issues.

“The issue Cowan House illustrated is an example of talking gently about a horrific topic,” said editor Duncan Guy who recently moved the operation from Sapa’s Johannesburg office to Howick.

“Rather than focus on the killing of Osama bin Laden, I used a story about political analysts discussing the impact it would have on Indo-Pakistani relations.”

Holly Wynne-Potts, a Grade Seven learner, illustrated the story with an Indian flag saying through speech bubbles “don’t harbour terrorists” and a Pakistan flag replying “who, us?”

“There have been other examples of toning down gruesome stories for younger readers: focusing on a boy being reunited with his family in a story about the war in Ivory Coast and rats being trained to detect landmines in Mozambique.

Attached to each of the five news stories and the “Today in History” page that appear in Learn the News are worksheets compiled by experienced KwaZulu-Natal teacher Hazel Stanley. They are curriculum-based and designed for specific phases.

According to Cowan House headmaster Mark Emerson, these worksheets are often used by the school’s teachers as part of their programmes.

Learn the News, which is partly funded by a grant from the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, goes out free of charge, with 2 500 e-mail addresses on the subscriber list, many of them at schools throughout South Africa and beyond.

Anyone wishing to subscribe may e-mail education@sapa.org.za or register through the website www.learnthenews.com.

— Witness Reporter.

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