On the occasion of Children's Day, the Scrappy News Service is being launched on national television.

Scrappy News Meet Bengalurus child journos asking the right questions
news Children Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 11:50

Enter a third-floor room in SVS public school in Bengaluru, and you’ll be greeted by a quirky and colourful structure. Propped up on bamboo sticks, with a roof made of leaves and lit by fairy lights, it could be a big pillow castle, but it’s actually a newsroom.

That’s right. If you’ve never seen a newsroom doused in colour and creativity, that’s about to change, thanks to students of SVS and Scrappy News service. Because here, you will see children with all the traits of the reporter you might see on television – they ask the right questions, they get the public opinion on issues and they even broadcast it to the world with a proud call to ‘be scrappy!’.

The Scrappy News newsroom

The children’s Scrappy News service, has been operating in their school from October 20. The effort involves children from classes 7 to 9 and gives them access to full camera crews, microphones and all that equips them to become reporters and news anchors.

“At home, I watch TV9, PublicTV and Times Now, and when I started with Scrappy News, I had to search for stories in topics like weather and crime. I liked doing that as it is different from usual subjects,” shared Akash excitedly. The class 8 student is one of the Scrappy News reporters and anchors.  

An initiative by NGO Going to School, Scrappy News endeavours to involve children from low income backgrounds in school by teaching them 21st century entrepreneurial skills, design-thinking and community engagement.

This was Scrappy News’ first project in Bengaluru and they picked SVS public school, where many children from lower middle class and poor families go to study.

The teachers are pleased with the project.

“The activity gives a view of the world to the students. They are missing classes but it is also helping them overcome the fear of speaking to new people. They are also exposed to new careers as everyone can’t be doctors or engineers,” said Mebina, a teacher at the school.

Anita, the admin of the school, told TNM, that they came to know about many hidden talents and how creative some children could be. “Even if we asked them earlier to do some creative projects at home, they would just take the help of an elder and do it. But here, they are eager to do everything themselves, even collecting the scrap items!”

Indeed, the newsroom is made entirely of things old and forgotten.

“We collected scrap from our homes and a scrap shop, painted everything with our friends, set up bamboo sticks and iron wiring [to hold up the structure] and added flower vases,” Akash said.

Children building the newsroom with scrap items

Once the newsroom was made, Chetan, a programme manager with a sister organisation of Going to School, held auditions. Each child was asked to speak on a topic for a minute, based on which the reporters and anchors for the news service were chosen.

"We gave them training earlier on how they should approach each topic. We've realised how talented these kids are - you just just have to give them a topic now, and they will identify the different aspects and frame questions themselves," Chetan gushes. 

Apart from Akash, Prajwal, Bhavya and Divya too are Scrappy News reporters and anchors. When TNM visited the school on October 10, they were all set with a Karnataka weather report. In a demo, the four rattled off all the important weather updates, accompanied with an impromptu rapid fire between Akash and Prajwal. The camaraderie between the two kids confirmed what they had to say about their bond - they are on and off best friends!

(From left) Prajwal, Akash, Bhavya and Divya

When TNM met the children, they had a reporting assignment on their chosen topic – the lack of playgrounds in Bengaluru. 

They went to the Kempegowda Park, and asked the walkers about their take on how there were no playgrounds for children to play. 

“You played your favourite sport in a playground when you were younger, but we don’t. What do you think we should do?” the children asked.

They doggedly questioned people in the park, both young and old, about the games they played in their childhood. They also asked how they can convince authorities to build playgrounds for them to play in.

Scrappy News service was earlier widely operative in remote schools in Bihar and Mumbai. And while the initiative, which began in 2015 in Mumbai, was originally meant for primetime TV, it did not immediately happen. The news productions went online on YouTube instead.

Now, however, Scrappy News is finally going to launch on TV. On November 14, Children’s Day, the kids of SVS School will present their final production to a number of entrepreneurs. And Scrappy News will officially be launched by Colors TV, with a new episode coming every Sunday.

To read more about Scrappy News and how it has encouraged many children to stay in school read TNM’s earlier feature here

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