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whiz_kids_workshop
Whiz Kids Workshop, a nonprofit located in Ethiopia, uses media to educate children who do not have access to schooling. The organization has created three shows called Tsehai Loves Learning, Involve Me-Watch Me and Little Investigators that educate children on the fundamentals of learning. They use media and technology to promote literacy, health education and gender equality.

Whiz Kids Workshop was founded in 2005 by a husband and wife team who were inspired to help young children prepare for primary school in rural Ethiopia. Because the Ethiopian government does not have enough money to provide learning materials to children in preschools or kindergartens, many children miss out on basic education that prepares them for higher level schooling. Whiz Kids Workshop bridges this gap by providing young students with educational television programs, fundamental learning materials, storybooks and workbooks.

Their television show, Tsehai Loves Learning, had been expanded to movie screenings and DVDs all over Ethiopia. The show uses animation and puppets to present research based facts to their target audience of children ages 3 through 9. Topics covered by the show range from public health and ethics to literacy and preparing children for school.

Involve Me-Watch Me was the first Ethiopian television program for youths ages 9 through 15. As of 2013, Whiz Kids Workshop has published over 30 educational storybooks and produced 32 radio show episodes based on this show. These books and shows have been distributed in 115 schools.

Little Investigators promotes scientific learning in a fun way and is the first Ethiopian show to do so. The show is targeted toward teenagers and aims to introduce the scientific method and how it can be used to analyze global warming, current issues and much more.

As of right now, the organization is producing their fourth show, Girls in Red, an animated series created especially for adolescent girls. The show tackles issues like child marriages, health issues like HIV and practicing safe sex. According to the United Nation’s campaign, Girl Up, only 38 percent of females ages 15 to 24 are literate, 20 percent of girls are married before the age of 15 and 12 percent of girls within this age range are mothers or pregnant with their first child. Young girls in Ethiopia are also seven times more likely to be HIV positive than males. Girls in Red is in the process of being produced with the goal to reduce these numbers and help young, Ethiopian females live healthier and smarter lives.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Whiz Kids Workshop, Fast Company, Tadias
Photo: Fast Company

ureport
On July 16th, UNICEF’s U-Report, a groundbreaking text-message based innovation that amplifies the voices and views of young people in developing countries, reached over one million active users.

This has allowed many young people in developing countries, who would otherwise not have a voice, to share opinions on everything from skills they think would be the most beneficial in the working world to the best way to deal with country policy.

This information is recorded as documentation of the real-time insights of people living with the current problems of the world. Local governments of these developing countries can view U-Report statistics and information to ascertain the perspective of the future generations.

Once a person joins U-Report, they can receive weekly SMS messages and polls to and from a growing community of U-Reporters, regular radio programs that will broadcast relevant stories, and newspaper articles that will publish news from the local community.

“U-Report is an entirely new model for engaging young people, empowering communities, and holding governments more accountable,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, where the platform is helping UNICEF workers share critical information about Ebola, polio, and newborn care with families living in remote areas that health workers cannot easily reach.

U-Report has become so popular and influential within Africa that Airtel Nigeria, a telecommunications company, has partnered with UNICEF to make U-Report more accessible. Through this improved connectivity, more Nigerians will have free access to the mobile applications and services developed by UNICEF. The partnership increases the information and provides more opportunities for participation by allowing UNICEF to tap into Airtel’s mobile services to make health, education, child protection and community-focused content readily available to all Airtel Nigeria customers.

These strides by UNICEF to make global awareness readily accessible to young people have improved the chances in the future for a better, more connected global society.

Alysha Biemolt

Sources: UNICEF, Ureport, Telecom Paper, Airtel
Photo: Uganda Scouts Association

north korea
Media in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is tightly controlled. Television stations broadcast government-endorsed news and statements, documentaries affirming the god-like status of the Kim family and politically fueled dramas. Radio subscribers are treated daily to Kim Jong-Un’s schedule and criticism of policies that do not match the country’s own.

As with most technology, radio usage is restricted. Most South Korean broadcasts are jammed so that North Koreans on the receiving end hear little more than ‘jet plane noise.’ All legal radios in North Korea are tuned to specific stations. They are checked and registered with police.

It is radios of the illegal variety that are beginning what some are referring to as a ‘quiet revolution.’ Smuggled in from China or homemade, they access a variety of independent programming. Providing potential listeners with real-time news is the purpose of groups like Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and Radio Free Chosun.

One such group, Free North Korea Radio (FNKR,) was founded by Kim Seong Min. Once a North Korean soldier, Min tuned into a South Korean station “out of curiosity.” The program he listened to debunked myths surrounding Kim Jong Il, particularly regarding the place of the Great Leader’s birth. The more he listened, the more he doubted what he had been taught. Min eventually made his escape to the south.

FNKR, which is based in Seoul, now broadcasts three hours per day. Staffers, most North Korean defectors, report on the outside world. In an effort to protect their families, almost everyone but Min uses a pseudonym.

Radio stations like FNKR reroute the information paths into North Korea. For over half a century, the North Korean government has chosen and embellished its facts in a tactful manner.

Radio distribution has been spurred on by the black markets that have supported North Koreans since the famine of the 1990s. By engaging in private enterprises, these citizens undermine the state distribution system, and consequently break North Korean law. Even so, an estimated 80 percent of North Koreans are involved in the black market today. In 2010, research group InterMedia conducted a study  to see how much of the North had access to foreign media.

Radio remains the most effective means of communicating news to North Koreans. Curiosity, well-intentioned piracy and radios are breaking the government’s attempt at monopolizing the country’s media.

– Olivia Kostreva

Sources: ABC, BBC, The Guardian, InterMedia
Photo: The Guardian

north_korea_news
Cut off from much of the world, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea, is a mystery to most people. The DPRK constantly provokes its southern counterpart with missile tests and hosts odd guests like Dennis Rodman. If you only got your information from the mainstream media, you probably perceive the nation to be an uncontrollable enemy of the United States and the Western world.

Much of the reason why we know very little about this country is because the DPRK government purposely isolates itself and its people. Any political expression is prohibited, unless you are supporting the Kim family establishment. For those looking to get the inside scoop on the DPRK, here are five websites to help you become more informed:

NKnews.org: This trusted news site provides independent news and intelligence information focused on North Korea. From politics and military to social and culture, NKnews provides a wide array of news and prides itself on being impartial.

Dailynk.com: This company has taken a strong stance against the North Korean regime. Dailynk provides information of widespread human rights and other violations by the government. In hopes to free the people, the publication works to defend human rights, supports democratization and a peaceful unification of the Korean peninsula.

The Korea Herald: This publication is South Korea’s leader in English-language news and boasts over 1 million users. Its National section also includes news on North Korea. News topics include military activity and political tensions between the two neighbors.

The New York Times: The Times is a world-renowned news agency so it is not surprising that they have an extensive archive of news on North Korea. Their 4,612 articles about North Korea covers human rights, international relations, military activity and more. They also have a “Chronology of Coverage” that has updated several times a week since the start of the year.

Reddit, North Korea News: Although not a news site, Reddit’s North Korea News page is probably the largest aggregator of North Korean news articles on the web. People create threads with news articles from all across the internet. Article sources include Bloomberg, The Times, Dailynk, and other international publications. It is a great way to stay updated on anything related to North Korea.

We hope you will visit these websites and stay informed on North Korea. The best way to fight against any misconceptions about a people is to learn about them, and these websites should provide you with some great information!

– Sunny Bhatt

Sources: New York Times, Reddit, The Korea Herald, DailyNK, NK News
Photo: North Korea Herald

British welfare system
The United Kingdom welfare system has a huge impact on everyday family life in Britain. According to the Guardian, over 20.3 million people in the UK receive some type of benefit from the government. That is over 64 percent of all families in Britain. The British welfare system has come under enormous scrutiny due to a television program known as “Benefits Street.”

Benefits Street, on Channel 4, features citizens of an area where welfare claims are as high as 90 percent. The show first aired on January 6th and will run for 5 episodes.

The first episode caused an immediate uproar in both the public and political sectors of the United Kingdom.  The BBC issued a report where during Prime Minister’s Question time, Prime Minister David Cameron said in a response to the program that “the government should intervene in people’s lives to help them work and off welfare.”

A number of politicians have weighed in one way or another on the controversy with the show. The complaints from the show range, but mostly that the show is misrepresenting the people, in that they are actually not as badly off as the show portrays them to be.

The outcry from the public, on the other hand, is another story entirely.

After the first episode aired, popular social media sites like Twitter contained death threats; one posted, “set fire to Benefits Street”, while another read, “How do we eradicate this scum?”  The critics of the show say that the show created hatred and dislike for those in the British welfare system–parts of the program showed various crimes committed, as well as drug use.

Those in favor say that it is about time those at the bottom had a platform to speak. Fraser Nelson, an editor for a magazine called the Spectator, a traditionally right leaning publication, said in a statement to the Associated Press, “Poverty is one of the least fashionable topics in Britain. People don’t want to believe that the welfare state now sponsor[s] the poverty it’s designed to eradicate.”

The controversy surrounding the show, however, does highlight a painful truth that needs addressing. The Associated Press reports that the British Government plans to take another 12 billion pounds out of the British welfare system. The question then becomes, how does Britain continue to offer support while at the same time staying within their budget?

– Arthur Fuller

Sources: BBC, The Guardian, The Guardian, Telegraph, ABC News
Photo: ITV

infographic

We’re all busy. Hectic schedules and technology practically run our lives, so here are nine easy ways to make them work in your favor and become more globally aware.

1. Twitter
It’s not all celebrities and witty screenwriters. Worldwide news organizations like CNN, BBC, and the Financial Times host Twitter accounts. Follow them or have their updates sent directly to your phone. Keeping an eye on worldwide trending topics can also help alert you if news is breaking.

2. Google Alerts
More along the lines of a “target acquired” approach, Google Alerts allows you to plug any phrase, country, word, or person into the endless Google engine and have the new results delivered to your inbox whenever you’d like.

3. RSS Feeds
Most sites these days will have an RSS Feed option. Signing up for it allows you to have the most important news right on your tablet or computer without having to search the internet.

4. Global News Sites
Go directly to the source. Sites like BBC News and CNN allow you to see the most important articles around the globe and then divide them by continent and country.

5. Magazines
Political magazines tend to take the occasionally dull topic of foreign affairs and make them digestible for larger audiences. However, because they tend to be monthly issues, you only get the greatest hits.

6. Council on Foreign Relations Daily Briefs
Delivered to your inbox every morning, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) gives you a summary of the most important events around the globe, analyzes them, and explains why what they’re giving you is important. CFR tends to be nonpartisan, gathering analysis from both sides of the aisle.

7. News Television/Radio Channels
Turn that remote to your favorite news channel of choice and have it serenade you with factual goodies while working the evening away. Not a morning person? Turn on the news while making coffee or getting ready to help get the juices flowing.

8. Books
Transport the written word to your iPad or tablet and take it with you on the morning commute, or take a mental health break while waiting for a meeting. If non-fiction books aren’t your thing, try historical fiction like Khaled Hosseini’s novel, “The Kite Runner.”

9. Newspapers
They’re still alive! Subscribe to a newspaper and have it on your phone or tablet whenever you have time.

– Hilary Koss

Sources: CFR, Amazon, Financial Times, BBC News

Reading_Between_the_Lines
Growing up with glasses over my pupils since age two, it’s always been second nature to toss them on after making the reach to shut off the alarm. This brief encounter with impaired vision is something many, including myself, take deeply for granted.

While most of us living in high income countries escape the consequences of our genetically poor eyesight with prescription glasses, those in the developing world are not so fortunate.

According to the World Bank, an estimated 10% of all primary school children in developing countries have problems with their vision. Yet, according to Stanford’s Rural Education Action Program (REAP), vision problems are largely treatable. In fact, 97% of youth eyesight problems are induced by refraction errors, which correction can easily fix by fitting them with proper glasses.

Unfortunately, many children in low income countries live with these refraction issues and don’t have access to vision correcting glasses. The highest percentage of vision impaired children is in urban and rural Southern China, with up to 30% of children without glasses.

Enter Sight Learning. The organization, run by 17-year-old Yash Gupta, collects donated glasses in the United States and distributes them, accordingly, throughout the world. Starting in 2011, Sight Learning, donated 9,500 pairs of glasses to students in Haiti, Honduras, India and Mexico.

Sight Learning’s mission aims to improve the lives of students by providing eyeglasses and eye exams around the world, in order to help them perform better in school. As well pronounced studies have proven, better education leads to higher incomes. Instead of condemning 10% of children, and eventually  adults, to an illiterate life and a reduced standard of living, we can provide our expendable glasses to transform negative circumstances into one of visionary and educational success.

Gupta, recently named one of “CNN’s Heroes,” collects the glasses within his own home. Sight Learning collaborates with New Eyes for the Needy, a non-profit that has provided glasses to over 7.9 million people.

So, how can you help give the gift of sight? You can lead an eyeglasses drive in school to increase your numbers of unwanted glasses. You can go out to your local optometrist and see if they can donate extra pairs. And if these seem a bit extreme, but you still want to contribute in your own way, just rummage around your house and ask your family if they have any extra glasses that are no longer needed. You’ll be surprised with how many you find, and how many students’ lives you will dramatically improve.

– Michael Carney

Sources: CNNVolunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, Standford University
Photo: Deviant Art

foxconn_employees_china
With the holiday season approaching, big-ticket items, such as the forthcoming Sony Playstation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One, are being rapidly assembled in Chinese manufacturing plants. The retail values are $399 and $499 respectively, but the cost shows little of the true price one pays.

Sony has come under scrutiny recently for their partnership with Foxconn, the largest electronics manufacturer in the world. At Foxconn’s Yantai plant, students are reportedly being forced to assemble the gaming console, or risk failing their courses.

The students claim they were offered unpaid internships, but were given manual labor instead of tasks related to their field of study. If the students refused, they were threatened with losing six credits.

This is not the first occurrence of unfair labor practices by Foxconn. In January, workers making the Xbox console threatened a mass suicide over staffing assignments. In September of last year, about 2,000 workers rioted over unfair wages and work conditions.

Sony has said in a statement that it “expects its suppliers, including Foxconn, to fully comprehend and comply” with its supplier code of conduct, and they “are in communication with Foxconn and are investigating the matter.”

Microsoft, while not addressing Foxconn directly, has said that their Code of Conduct is enforced by contract, and “If our strict standards are not met, suppliers risk business restrictions or termination of their contract.”

– David Smith

Sources: The Daily Mail, Washington Post
Photo: Japan Focus

Television_In_Africa
It’s interesting to take a look at how television shows are being watched across the world. In America, there are very specific types of TV shows that viewers have grown accustomed to. Can this be said for other parts of the world? Below are the top five TV shows in Africa. Can you see any similarities?

1. Big Brother Africa

This is a reality TV game show that is much like the Big Brother reality show featured in the US. Randomly selected people from fourteen different African countries are chosen to live together under one roof complete with video surveillance. Millions of viewers watch how the contestants behave in the house and vote to evict housemates every week. The last housemate to be evicted wins a cash prize.

2. Mashariki Mix

Filmed in the East African Region, this TV series focuses on lifestyle living, showing viewers the best places to eat, shop, and, play. The TV show also goes behind the scenes at events, interviewing music artists and culinary icons.

3. Studio 53 Extra

Studio 53 Extra provides the latest fashion news and entertainment gossip in Africa. The show stars co-hosts Eku Edewor and Marcy Dolapo Oni, who update viewers on fashion do’s and don’ts, what to watch, and who to look out for on the big screen.

4. Tinsel

A dramatic soap opera featuring a cast from Nigeria, Tinsel follows the lives of a group of adults highlighting romance, betrayal, and passion along the way. This drama has been sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, hooked on the lives of the Tinsel characters.

5. iNkaba

iNkaba is TV series broadcasted in South Africa that explores the region’s social heritage. Depicting the lives of the rich and powerful, the middle class, and the struggling poor, the TV show informs viewers on the often ugly and brutal system of social class, and the factors that bind people to them.

– Chante Owens

Sources: Zen Magazine, Pana Television
Photo: Washington Post

UN_women_fight_for_equality
UN Women is an organization that was created in July 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly. The organization’s full name is the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women; its mission is to promote gender equality throughout the world and champion women from all walks of life.

Many women in the world face discrimination in the workplace, and receive fewer opportunities when it comes to career and educational advancement. UN Women sees this kind of gender discrimination happening all over the world, and makes it a part of its agenda to ensure that women have basic and equal human rights. Women are often denied access to health care, and even worse, they lack the political voice to change such conditions because of their stark under-representation in governmental decision making.

One of the major issues on the UN Women’s agenda is the end to violence against women. In a 2013 global review, published by the World Health Organization, it was reported that 35 percent of women in the world have experienced some kind of violence from an intimate partner. UN Women also focuses on the different aspects that are associated with violence against women: sex trafficking, child brides, rape, and sexual harassment in the work or education place.

Partnering with government agencies is an effective way that UN Women is able to take action against the various forms of discrimination against women. UN Women channels its efforts on implementing laws that will help protect women against threats like violence. It also advocates for policies that will open up more economic opportunities for women.

The wage gap between men and women is something that UN Women takes very seriously and seeks to bring to a close by implementing policies that argue for fairness in the workplace. A large part of the organization’s mission to empower women comes from its dedication to spread awareness in response to the AIDS epidemic. Women make up 54 percent of all people living in the world with HIV. UN Women has made it a job to spread awareness on the factors connected to the spread of HIV/AIDS. With the help of its partners, and resources UN Women has been able to broadcast the voice of women living with AIDS and it takes steps to help prevent the spread of the disease.

UN Women is gaining momentum and acquiring more support. Actress, Nicole Kidman, showed her support for the organization during an acceptance speech at the Variety Magazine Power of Women Awards event. Kidman encouraged her audience to see the desperate need for women’s equality in the world.

– Chante Owens

Sources: UN Women, Daily Mail

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tweet to media elmo
Encourage your favorite media to cover the issues or cause. Find the Twitter accounts for reporters, producers, anchors and other media figures. Send them tweets encouraging coverage.

 

Example:

@Morning_Joe How about a shout out for The Borgen Project tomorrow!

@JoeNBC Would love to see the gang discussing food aid reform.

@morningmika Global poverty dropping has created U.S. jobs. Please cover!