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Engaging teachers to promote remote learning through use community radio education programs can effectively help pupils learn at home.

We initiated an education program where we engaged teachers to prepare lessons and air them at our Community Radio. Impact is encouraging.

Photo of Justice Sumaili
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Written by

I am a.....

  • I am a Journalist working with Dzimwe Community Radio Station in Malawi, Monkey Bay.

Tell us about your idea

The spread of Corona Virus World Wide has greatly affected pupils learning as most schools have been closed in an attempt to protect learners from contracting the virus. A number of initiatives have since been suggested and being implemented by the Ministry of Education particularly in Malawi while pupils are still at home. One such a way is use of an online learning. While this may be applicable in other developing countries, the intervention may not well be appropriate in Malawi as most pupils do not have phones and computers. Children and teachers from Lisumbwi Secondary School have since remarked on the challenges that pupils are facing using an online learning.

Management of Dzimwe Community Radio Station decided to engage teachers in preparing lessons for their students and air them over the radio. The strategy firstly involved preparing a Public Service Announcement over the radio informing students and parents about the radio education program which was packaged and aired in a special so called Education Corner. The parents were told in advance to remind and prepare their children for the program. The students were also informed in advance the subject and class from which the lesson will be brought from. Teachers prepare 40 minutes lessons nicely at a pace that can best be understood by students. As a Radio Station, we included breakers that aimed at reminding students the importance of observing recommended sanitary measures as well as physical distancing in case they may be in a group listening to the program. Parents have been involved in creating a learning environment by supplying radio sets with enough batteries for the program as well as providing airtime to ask a teacher who come in live on air for feedback just after the 40 minutes program. Feedback takes 20 minutes making a total of an hour four a complete radio program. 

This program has been run over the our radio for two weeks now and we have managed to produce a total of ten radio program from eight subjects. Teachers say the feedback part is a way of letting them know that they have understood the topic. However, since the radio communicate to the masses, not many students can have the opportunity of being assessed in this way. Facebook pages and Whats-ups can complement the process of assessing students if they have understood the topic by providing them with an exercises periodically. They can also be graded in that way. 

There are a number of areas that need to be perfected though to make the lessons more interesting and attractive to students. Firstly is perfecting lesson presentation skills. Teachers need to get skills that can best make students learn as teaching will be done in the absence of students. This is beyond lecturing. Secondly is the usual perception of teachers of emphasizing on areas that he/she feel that are key points and new to the students. 

Radio Stations then need to collaborate in providing a more planned way of delivering lessons to students. This can be done by sharing lessons in order to cover more in a short space of time. Radio covers the masses and as such has the potential of reaching out to quite a number of students at a time. Dzimwe Radio in particular covers a distance of 150 km radius covering Five Districts entirely. However, on the part of challenges Dzimwe Community Radio Station lack financial support to engage a wider range of teachers beyond the nearest Lisumbwi Secondary School Teachers. We have very limited means of transportation which is mostly busied up with Station administrative work. We also need a special education program recording studio as education programs come everyday and take time to be compiled. 

Radio education programs can also be maintained even during the time when students have gone back to school. We have day and night scholars who can benefit from the programs if they are presented in specific recommended times.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

An averagely increased teacher to pupil ratio which existed in public schools. This is the first pre-covid school system which i wish to leave in the past. This system apart from delaying the learning process, is a health hazard and can accelerate the spread of diseases in the shortest space of time. If Corona virus had first started in the Malawian Schools, this would have been a bizarre as many students would have contracted the pandemic because of the congestion.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

My name is Justice Sumaili currently working as a Station Manager at Dzimwe Community Radio Station. I possess a number of credentials including Diplomas in Journalism and Marketing. I have been working with a media institution since the past 12 years and i am 42 years Old.

What region are you located in?

  • Southern Africa

Where are you located?

Dzimwe Community Radio Station, where i am working is located in the South Eastern Region of Malawi in Monkey Bay Township which is to the Northern part of Mangochi District and between the West and Eastern arms of Lake Malawi. The area is found in the Nankumba Peninsula.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Paul Kim

Justice. Thanks for your submission! You are definitely addressing the issue of accessibility during COVID-19. I am wondering about your ideas to scale this across geographies? Can you share specific curriculum? Also, please check out Use Radio for engaging students -- perhaps you can collaborate on something?

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi all! Justice Sumaili  edith tendo  Paul Kim 
Thanks for sharing the great work you are doing using radio to address equity in education Justice and Edith. Did you see this interesting project, Radio Enseña ? It also uses radio to educate, in Chile.

This Idea describes an interesting tool that might further amplify your reach.
Call 0800 - AULAS, an educational tool for those who live in remote places 

Photo of Justice Sumaili

The teachers who we engage are coordinated at Zone level and strictly follow the national curriculum in delivering their lessons. This is because the national examinations that student write are also based on this national curriculum. The zone however provide the opportunity for teachers to select best teachers among themselves who can best impart knowledge to students in an interesting and innovative way.

Photo of edith tendo

Wow, this is brilliant. I have an idea quite similar. And for me this is going to enable children who would otherwise have missed school because they can not afford it or have other hindrances.