Riding the learning waves of the radio, reaching out to children in remote communities
Tell us about your idea
Nepal is placed between two big economic powers, falling under the medium human development index according to United Nations Development Program, under a new government of federal republic, Nepal was just recovering from the 2015 earthquakes. Now the world reels into a different crisis, that of the COVID 19, and as countries go into lockdown in Nepal particularly it has seen almost two months of lockdown, stalling almost everything and bringing the economy to a grinding halt and rendering many unemployed, effecting the schools and children, making them unable to get back to school and resume their education.
Even though Nepal has managed to build infrastructure in Information Communication and Technology, it is yet to reach to remote mountainous regions in Nepal. The development of information and communication technology in government education is faced with many challenges. So far, ICTs have not been used as a way of acquiring new knowledge and skills in schools of Nepal due to inadequacy of curriculum content and limited access to ICTs. Challenges include inadequate funding, lack of; basic infrastructure, qualified personnel and policy formulation and implementation. The major challenge in our context is the required physical infrastructure for implementing ICT and Nepal still experiences a lag in its implementation. This continue to widen the digital divide and the access to ICT facilities as a major challenge facing in Nepal. Considering these challenges and given the present context of COVID 19 crisis, there is very little that can be done in terms of ensuring the continuity of education in these remote areas, with the use of online education as an alternative to reach out to the children attending school. In order to address this educational gap during the COVID crisis, returning to radio or TV is seen as a medium of choice to reach out to children, research shows radio is particularly strong in the rural areas, where 83% of Nepalis live. TV is regarded as the second preferred source for local news and information at all demographic variables, and radio is still king. survey shows that respondents say they have listened to the radio in the past six months, and only 24% listen to it daily. Listenership is highest in Karnali Province with 70%, and the figure is only 40% for Province 2 in the eastern Tarai. Radio is popular in the 16-24 age group, and less so among those 55 and above. Radio is more popular among the more educated. Radio is the more dominant medium than tv to access local news and information, and the exception again is Province 2 where only 11% access local news from radio. More than a quarter of respondents found radio the most reliable medium, and that proportion goes up to 55% in Karnali Province and 40% in Far West Province. Radio listenership spikes up during national events like elections, or natural disasters. It is a go-to medium during crisis, but during normal times Nepalis seem to prefer other media that they can access through mobile phones. Only 19% of rural respondents say they have access to print media whereas more than 54% of city dwellers do so.
Based on the information above, it is evident that access to information is varied in various areas around Nepal, however the medium of choice for most people living in rural and remote areas is Radio, with very little access to television and print media, likewise in the case of mobile phones, most of the population own some kind of device for their communication.
In order to engage with children attending schools in remote areas of Nepal, we feel there are two methods that could fit into this idea;
- Radio Education:
- As mentioned above, radio with its penetration into rural nepal will have maximum coverage to atleast enable children to get connected to the various educational radio programmes, this as expected will enable them to work out a way to initiate self-learning, the programmes produced need to adhere to the National curriculum but have elements of self-exploration and learning, this could inculcate peer learning habits, wherein few groups of children gather (maintaining social distancing) from the neighborhood to learn from each other, this also coincides with an issue where most of the teachers who teach them who come from other districts and have now left for home due to the crisis and the lockdown.
- Workbook publication according to the national curriculum:
- Adhering to the current situation and with the COVID 19 cirsis, creating a workbook, for the children for the primary and the basic levels could support the education of the children where they would follow instructions, which their parents could help them with, this is sought after as most of the parents do not have any smart phones for online classes, hence with instructions from the workbook it would help the children learn and home tutored.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.
Childreach Nepal is a national non-governmental organisation (31616), registered locally with the Social Welfare Council. We have been consistently working in rural communities since 2009. We believe that every child has the right to live, learn and play, and to be safe, healthy and free.
We are a grassroots organisation working very closely with communities in a single rural municipality, Paanch Pokhari Thangpal Gaunpalika. We engage deeply with our community partners, using human-centred methods of participatory enquiry to identify the challenges they face in keeping their children healthy, safe and in school. We work with them to identify and explore potential solutions and help provide access to the resources and expertise that they need in order to own and implement these plans. We are proud that this work, although often complex to quantify and measure, brings about long term sustainable change.