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Kshamta Radio: A Radio learning program- Building muscles for listening as learning

A radio learning program to build connection, culture of community learning and develop resilience in areas with limited access to devices.

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 India has more than 600000 villages. One such tribal block in the district of Udaipur is Kotra block, nestled amidst the Aravalis and the tributaries of the Sabarmati. It is a place home to the 500000 Adivasi tribes. The average literacy rate of Kotra is a jaw dropping 24.5% of which male and female literacy is 37.55 and 11.4 percent, respectively. While the female literacy of the entire world is 82.7% it drops down to 11.4% in Kotra. Sharing the context is very critical here as it reflects the futility of even trying out the online learning. Children are learning at home. The need of the current situation is to celebrate their environment, build connections and create a safe community learning. Our observation in the first few weeks during the lockdown was to capture emergent needs of the children. The life in rural areas already has its own set of challenges and opportunities. We could hear children share the need of social interaction, friendships and of fun. Now we realised even if children have a phone in the family, it requires some independence, and intuitive understanding of tech to learn and of course lot of motivation. Secondly at most one member could have phone- that excludes other member of the family. Thirdly, electricity is not something you could take for granted here.

Understanding the current reality and emergent needs of the children we realised there could never be a better time to reimagine education and learning. The content which could not inspire children in person, how could it engage and inspire online with so many variables and constraints. How could we use storytelling, songs, riddles, friendships and issues important to them to create an integrated content to build connection, resilience and self-driven collective learning.

With this intention we came up with an idea of radio learning, to reach children with an intention of building connection, culture of community learning and developing resilience. 

 The advantage and scalability

Its community based, two-way communication, does not require internet, many people can be part of it at the same time, easy to navigate, and people who run these are from the community.  The aim is  to revive the spirit of the community learning by partnering with the community radio's in the districts across the country.

The content and the design elements of the idea:

The NCF (National Curriculum Framework) 2005 describes one of the main aims of Education as learning to respond to new situations flexibly and creatively. 

Our focus has been to engage with government schools in disadvantaged settings and ensure that children have access to meaningful and purposeful learning environment. 

The COVID - 19 pandemic demanded a nation-wide lock down as a preventive measure. This has given birth to offshoot effects that demand us to think about adapting our intervention. 

Our intervention geographies Kotra and Gogunda do not have access to stable internet connectivity to explore the options of e-classrooms or conferences. A handful of villages having access to internet, lacks availability of devices which poses another adversity. 

We are trying to adapt to change and we choose to go the old school way! One of the ways we thought of communicating is through the Community Radio where children and their parents could possibly benefit from: through learning focused audio program. The shows are designed in a way that is meaningful, relatable, contextual and creates opportunities for children to apply what they listen to, in their everyday lives. We are creating shows spanning over 30 minutes each to include Mindfulness and thematic learning sessions that are mapped to their school curriculum. 

Each week has a different theme and 30-minute segment is divided into the 5 parts- 

1) Wellbeing

2) Thematic story

3) Learning by doing activity at home (To cultivate a culture of self-driven collective learning)

3) Sargam Shiksha- Song on the same theme

4) Riddles, local jokes and trivia related to the theme

And every friday- Children's responses are aired on the radio

Implementation

The pilot of the program will be reaching 250-300 families. The Broadcasting reach is in the radius of 30 Km. We are planning to scale this to 10000 families through partnering with community radio’s in different districts. We are also planning to scale through partnering with different community-based organizations and starting bikes tied with speakers going across the communities. The initial program is designed for children from grade 3 and above.  The different themes across the program are:

Friends and family & gratitude

World of animals & how we can take care of them

Trees, plants & their conservation   

Water, it’s uses & conservation

Food, diverse practices & health

Homes and Habitat

Transportation and communication

Air, it’s properties and how it gets polluted

Hygiene of self and communities

Occupation 

Interdependence in this beautiful world!

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

The part of pre-school COVID system which we would like to leave is its inherent nature and structure to compartmentalise knowledge. It curbs student’s abilities to see things as a whole and inhibits appreciation of interdependence. Learning outside school is integrated and it needs to be in the same form inside the school as well. We cannot see academics, well-being and ability building as three separate thing. We need to leave behind this inherent class system in school learning through marked distinction between curricular and co-curricular. School builds muscles for replication whereas this pandemic has clearly highlighted the need of building creative confidence and muscles for ambiguity and uncertainty. The school does not leverage the community learning and in-fact de-legitimizes it. The COVID-19 has exposed the broken system of schooling and calls for a radical change through focussing on learning and not separating outcomes and assessment from learning. The school should focus more on building attention and awareness and less on assessment. The school should leave behind the concept of correction and focus on building connection. The school systems needs to reinvent is ability to engage the collective wisdom and incorporate self styled learning abilities of the community. Communities gather together every evening and how these platforms could be leveraged to build a sense of continuum between schools and communities. Listening as learning has been completely forgotten, there was a time where all forms of traditional knowledge was transferred through the sharing and listening. Schools should completely leave behind this culture of one way lecture and didactic teaching.

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

We are Kshamtalaya Foundation, a for purpose non-profit company founded to support children achieve their true potential. Our vision is to work to develop creative confidence in children and build entrepreneurial mindset. The questions which prompted to act and build on the idea due to COVID-19 are-

  • Whose Need is Online Learning? Is it OUR need or CHILDREN’S?
  • How will the content which failed to inspire children in person will engage and inspire them online?
  • What are our children really learning? What are they actually missing -if they are not going to school?
  • How will the massive information gap be addressed?
  • How do we reach those who are not in the matrix of the world wide web? 
  • Is there an emergent need for friendship, well-being and social interaction?

 

We thought of coming up with a medium which democratises learning and developing content and a narration style which addresses children's and communities emergent learning needs and keeps them together.

 




What region are you located in?

  • South-eastern Asia

Where are you located?

We are based in Udaipur, in the state of Rajasthan, India.

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