REPRESENTATION OF CHILD RIGHTS MESSAGES IN INFORMATION, EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION MATERIALS IN KENYA

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ABSTRACT
People’s lives in the society revolve around the production, use and interpretation of the meanings of signs. They rely on signs to make meanings of things, events and situations in their environment. This study examined the representation of child rights messages on poster images used by child-focused organisations in raising awareness on child rights in Kenya. The study aimed at identifying the different signs that are used in poster images communicating messages on child rights and analyzing the meanings of the signs using semiotics approach. The study was guided by three objectives, thus: to identify the types of signs embedded in poster images on child rights, to analyze the meanings of signs and to assess the suitability of messages in poster images that communicate messages on child rights in Kenya. The research adopted Symbolic Interactionism theory that avers that people in the society interact with the help of language and significant symbols as carriers of meanings. The method of this research was descriptive qualitative approach using semiotics method. The researcher collected twelve poster images on child rights from two child rights organisations in Kenya through purposive sampling and then analyzed and interpreted the representation of child rights messages through description. The two organisations were Terre des Hommes and the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against child abuse and Neglect. The findings of the study showed that IEC materials on child rights use a multiplicity of signs, which are encoded with messages through the use of signs and then decoded by the users, who view and interpret the meanings in the signs. However, the level of interpretation of meanings in the signs varied from one audience to another. A recommendation from the study was the need for programme officers to work closely with designers in the development of poster images and to pre-test poster images to understand how the various sections of the target audience interprets the signs embedded on the images

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