On March 19, 2018, a new baby was born at the Nation Media Group (NMG), Kenya’s leading media company and the largest in the East and Central Africa. It was a momentous occasion, as ecstatic staff of NMG gathered from various floors to witness the launch of Juniorspot, which would become Kenya’s first educational magazine pullout, a big milestone for the media industry.
Published every Monday in Daily Nation, the most widely read newspaper in Kenya, Juniorspot weekly magazine comes as a free pullout for young children in primary schools.
Initially it was an eight-pager with fun, educational, and informative content carefully compiled to engage the child. Later, due to growing interest and demand, the Juniorspot project dream team went back to the drawing board increased it to 12 pages to include four pages of national exam questions and answers. Every week, exam questions are published from two subjects and answers are provided to guide the learners.
Juniorspot is a product of NMG’s Newspapers in Education programme, an ambitious young reader development initiative, which involves the use of newspapers in schools for purposes of improving literacy and developing a reading culture among children. The NIE programme also aims to create social awareness and good citisenry among children through newspaper reading.
Juniorspot was carefully conceived to take care of the needs of the young learners, which was deliberately meant to bridge a gap that was discovered in the NMG readership coverage. Most of the content in the NMG print products was rather too serious and too mature for children. It was therefore felt that there was a clear need to come up with a product that particularly responds to the needs of the young readers between the ages of 7 and 15.
Sixty editions later, Juniorspot has proven to be an exciting, fun, and interactive magazine for children, as demonstrated by the high subscription rates by schools. This has been achieved through partnerships with like-minded organisations that support the idea and have come on board to sponsor schools to access the magazine. Even the most remote schools have been able to benefit, thanks to this arrangement.
Inside the magazine pullout, children get to read their own stories, as they are news makers and news sources, too. From sports to features on children’s talent, innovations, and school activities, they have a platform to air their views on various topics. On the second page, for instance, every week six learners picked from different counties get to speak or share their thoughts about a given topic. Their opinion is published in their own words.
Juniorspot Trivia has become the most popular and engaging section of the magazine. Children send in their answers to general knowledge questions published every week. On another page, an adult gets a chance to share their life story through primary school, encouraging and guiding young learners. On page five, the Classroom section simplifies classroom learning, presenting topics in the most interesting ways possible to help children relate.
For the 14 months that Juniorspot has been published, the resounding feedback has been consistent: It was an idea that provided a solution to a need. The results have come in many forms. For some of the learners, it has improved their to see themselves featured in the magazine. For many, it has led to increased participation in learning activities and improved performance in school and motivation in life. Schools have started forming Juniorspot clubs, which bring together groups of young learners to read, respond to questions, and take part in learning activities together.