IWPR Project Review

Young Journalist Inspires Fellow Students

  • Malala. (Photo: IWPR)

A schoolgirl participating in IWPR's Open Minds project in Pakistan's Swat valley has shown the way for young journalists from the region, publishing a series of diary articles on the BBC news website during her family's displacement from the volatile area in summer 2009.

"They got information from students of our project and have taken an interest; then they contacted me for assistance in sending their articles [to the media]."
Niaz Khan, IWPR Open Minds journalism trainer

Twelve-year-old Malala wrote the pieces after she and her family fled the Taleban insurgency which has engulfed the region for most of 2009. She has since been the subject of several media interviews and a documentary by an American filmmaker.

Now, says her IWPR Open Minds journalism trainer Niaz Khan, Malala's success is inspiring other young people to try to get their articles published.

"They got information from students of our project and have taken an interest; then they contacted me for assistance in sending their articles [to the media]," Niaz said. After helping them correct and edit their pieces, Niaz has been putting the youngsters in touch with local newspapers.

IWPR's Open Minds project brings journalism training and current affairs discussion sessions to 42 schools in Pakistan. Under the project, Niaz is employed to train a group of about 25 students in five schools to produce stories. But those who have contacted him, he says, are not project participants. Some are even from other schools.


Meanwhile, students and teachers in Pakistan's troubled North West Frontier Province have said that IWPR's school-based journalism training programme has helped raise awareness of civil rights and the rule of law.

The comments came in an October feedback survey by one of the programme's partner NGOs, the Islamabad-based Peace Education and Development Foundation, PEAD, which canvassed opinion in 11 participating schools in the region.

Five of the schools were madrassas in the regional capital Peshawar; the others state schools in rural Charsadda district, to the north of Peshawar.

PEAD asked all participating students - around 100-150 in each school - and the two coordinating teachers appointed to facilitate the project to fill in a simple feedback form about their experiences so far.

Most of the students took part in Open Minds discussion sessions on civil rights and the rule of law, which PEAD helps to facilitate. Some also attended Open Minds journalism training classes organised by professional journalists.