Kids website to promote interaction with govt

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pretoria - The Union Buildings was abuzz this morning with school children aged between 7 and 13 checking out the Presidency's new children's website.

The website is expected to promote interaction between government and the people, says Minister in the Presidency Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

Speaking to the children and delegates attending the launch of the website on Monday, the minister said it was aimed at educating children about how government activities are run.

"As government we want to create an environment where you can grow and learn about your government and what it is doing for you," the minister told the gathering.

The website is designed in flash to provide an animated and interactive experience for children. Key content issues include information about the symbolic importance of the national flag and the national anthem.

The minister said it was important that children knew about their country and its national symbols.

"As a caring nation, we have an obligation to teach our children about their country and national identity. We can only do that by ensuring that children understand the national symbols.

"We also deemed it important that our children should be afforded an opportunity to understand the responsibilities of the Presidency," she said.

The minister said it was government's intention to continuously improve on the website so that in the future it can include critical information such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Union Charter on the Rights and Welfare of children.

"Our children need to know all these instruments and how they relate to their well being."

The minister further called on the private sector to partner with government to roll-out the programme to schools which did not have computers.

"I would like to encourage all role players, including organs of civil society and the corporate sector, to join hands with government in advocating the protection and development of children in our country," said Ms Tshabalala-Msimang.

She also called on other government departments and other African countries to use the webspace available and use the internet as a tool to speak to children directly.

The minister hopes that this would promote information sharing on different issues while learning about one another's cultures.

A teacher from the Dimakatso Primary School Meisie Mangwane said the animation on the website would make learning sessions in the class room more exciting and in turn the learners will be introduced to the web space.

"Computer access is an important issue for our school," Ms Mangwane told BuaNews.

She said most of their learners do not know about the internet and this site is the right start to introduce them to the world of internet that speaks to them in their own kids' language.

Beauty Banda 13, a Grade 6 learner from the Boschkop Primary school described the site as exciting because she could also listen to the national anthem.

"I did not know much about how government works ... but know I will know where to go when I need more information. It's very exciting," the enthusiastic learner told BuaNews.

The Presidency has also recently signed up to Facebook- a social utility that connects people and allows them to interact from different regions.

Meanwhile, in an effort to better communicate with the media, the Presidency has also developed a new Web Based Media Database which will allow members of the media to personally update their contact details.

Members of the media can register their details on the database by visiting and filling out a registration form. They can choose a login name and a password and click on the Register tab.

Once registered, the media can amend their contacts as and when it is necessary using their login details.

According to the Presidency this will ensure that they always have the media's contact details. As from the 15 April, the Presidency will only use this new database for sending out statements and other information to the media.