This year’s theme for the Day of the African child is “accelerating the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children”
It has been a little over a year since we first hit the Kenyan airwaves. We were and still are doing something that has never been done before here in Kenya. Being the first to do something means that you are constantly trying new things which could either be a hit or a miss. Its trial and error for the most part. Despite these uncertainties, we continue to be sure about one thing; we are here to cater to the needs of Kenyan children below 14 years.
This is how we are doing it:
1.Embracing our cultures.
If asked to mention your favourite cartoon characters from your childhood you probably will talk about the likes of Johnny Bravo, characters from the Power Puff Girls, Courage the Cowardly Dog and so on. All these are Western shows that depicted nothing close to our lived realities as Kenyan or even African children.
We want children in Kenya to see themselves in the programs we air. We have partnered with producers of kids edutainment such as Ubongo Media creators of Ubongo Kids and Akili and Me, Peripheral Vision International who produce N*Gen, Impact Ed who produce My Better World, Paukwa House who are the creators of HummingBird Tales among others, to air their shows which are made by Africans, in Africa and for African children
We have also gone ahead to produce our own shows such as Boom! Na Wabi as well as a career show targeting 11-14 year olds known as A Day As. And this is just the beginning. We still continue to work on producing more Kenyan shows. Moreover, we are looking to partner with producers of African themed children’s content to provide them with a platform to broadcast.
2. Programming Policies
We have managed to create a community of Kenyan moms on our Facebook Page; one of the questions that constantly came up was why we were not airing Bible stories. While Bible stories are great, we never want any child to feel left out because of their family’s beliefs. An Africa fit for children has to be inclusive and fully accommodating to all despite their religion, ethnicity, gender and even background.
We want all children to know that they can dream big and become whoever they aspire to be despite their race, gender, religious beliefs or even socio-economic backgrounds.
3. A Whole-Child Approach
When the pandemic hit and schools were closed down, it was worrying that most people were only concerned about children missing out or being left behind in their curriculum activities. And yes of course, they had all the reasons to be concerned.
However, it would have been great to see more emphasis on the overall wellness of the child; psychologically, emotionally, socially, mentally and so on. As much as we want our children to thrive academically, we also need them to develop holistically.
That is why all the shows airing on our TV station Akili Kids! target various age-groups and have learning outcomes that are specific to the target group.
4. Protective Advertising Policy.
A child being exposed to inappropriate content is every parent/caregiver’s worst nightmare. We are dedicated to understanding and catering to the needs of children and parents. That is why we are keen to ensure that advertisements on our channel do not promote unhealthy foods, profane language or anything that would result in physical or mental harm to kids.
The safety of our children will always come first.
5.Affordability and Accessibility.
We are the first and only FREE TO AIR children’s channel in Kenya. With just a digital tv and an antenna, families all across Kenya can watch us on FTA. We are also available on all other platforms such as GOTV, ZUKU, StarTimes and DSTV.
That is not all.
As of May 27th Akili Kids! launched on Baze, a video streaming platform by Safaricom. For just ksh.10 Kenyan children can have access to our fun and educative content all day long by just dialing *544*54#. Parents no longer have to worry about purchasing YouTube bundles or their children being exposed to harmful adverts while online.
In one of our articles, The Future of Edutainment, we extensively talk about why it is imperative that edutainment be more affordable and accessible. Read more on that here.
6.Strengthen Family Ties.
It is the wish of every parent to nurture a relationship with their child. And it is every child’s dream to have their parent be their friend as well. This is not easy to accomplish; and we completely understand that. But this also is not impossible to attain.
While there are concerns over the social rifts that technology continues to create; we have found a way of fostering these parent/child relationships.
So exactly how are we doing it?
We have organized our programming to accommodate shows that are suitable for the entire family, that is parent/caregivers together with their children. In addition, we use our Facebook community platform to share fun and informative content such as blogs that offer insights to parents/caregivers on their parenting journey.
All these efforts are in a bid to create a safer and better Kenya and ultimately Africa for our children.