What community radio can do for education in Africa
Radio broadcasting is a powerful tool that enables communication to many isolated rural villages and towns in developing countries. For many of these rural communities, radio broadcasts are often the only effective way to solicit important information to a large audience.
Most recently in Uganda, community operated educational programmes are being broadcast to remote localities in an effort to reach students that have limited access to educational resources.
Since its establishment in 2003, Nakaseke community radio has served as a forum and knowledge portal for poor rural communities in Nakaseke, a newly created district located 75km north of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. Nakaseke radio operates in the Nakaseke Community Multimedia Centre (CMC), and is part of a piloted series of Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCT) established by the African Information Society Initiatives to test and assess the impact and viability of MCT’s in rural Africa.
Education is one the station’s main programme foci and recently Nakaseke Community radio, together with primary teachers from government and private schools, started a special programme called The Radio Quiz Competition as a challenge to students to perform better and hopefully raise the low literacy levels and poor academic performance of students in the impoverished district.
The programme targets all schools in the district, which has a total of 95 primary schools (both government and private), and 13,401 pupils, with a 1:75 teacher – pupil ratio.
These schools are scattered in different localities, thus making transport to the radio station difficult and unfortunately limiting participation, but the radio broadcast bridges the geographical gap and helps educate the students who are unable to compete.
Radio Quiz Competition runs live every Sunday over the community radio. Three schools are hosted, with each school represented by two pupils in a live question and answer session that is conducted by a panel of teachers from local schools. These teachers set the questions and also provide answers and explanations if the students are incorrect – for the benefit of listeners.
Winning schools are often awarded prizes, mostly scholastic materials, donated by the radio programme’s listeners (parents), NGOs/CBOs and some local leaders. The successful school advances to the next round and this process continues up to the final stage.
Radio Quiz Competition is held every year and this year’s edition attracted 62 primary schools. Four schools were in the final, which took place on Sunday, 28th, October 2012 and ‘Semuto Parents School’ claimed the winner’s trophy and the prize, a bull; donated by the local Member of Parliament Hon. Sempala Mbuga Edwad.
Since its establishment in 2006, according to an evaluation carried out by the District Education authorities and the District Teachers’ Association (DTA), the competition has helped in:
- Promoting confidence among the learners
- Raising the academic standards in Nakaseke district and Uganda at large
- Enabling teachers from government and private schools to share views and ideas related to increasing academic performance
- Enabling teachers to evaluate their teaching
- Promoting competition amongst the students, providing them motivation to succeed
- Exposing the pupils to an educational environment beyond the classroom
- The programme provides educational drive to many of the pupils who participate in the radio broadcast, and they continue learning beyond the competition.
- It has been found that students who took part in the programme, and answered questions in front of the live radio audience, gained confidence in their abilities during the broadcast.
- Reading and listening skills have increased amongst the participating schools.
- Pupils have also benefited from the free computer trainings every year provided by Nakaseke Telecentre.
Supplied by: James Ssenabulya, Nakaseke Community Multimedia Centre and Library