OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Radio Tutoring to prepare for national exams

During COVID19 shutdown, hire 8 teachers to provide prep for national test prep (1 subject/hr/day x 8) on radio for 12th graders in Haiti

Photo of Sister Marilyn LACEY, rsm
4 5

Written by

I am a.....

  • Organization

Tell us about your idea

Mercy Beyond Borders (MBB) works with hundreds of high school Scholars in rural northern Haiti, in S.Sudan, in Malawi, and in the refugee camps of norther Uganda and Kenya. Under normal circumstances, besides giving each girl a scholarship, MBB supports the Scholar via computer classes, a learning center with wifi and laptops and a lending library, individual counseling, home visits, leadership workshops, etc.  But these are not normal times. Schools are closed. The Scholars are back with their families in very basic housing (most without plumbing or power or privacy or study space).  For the scholars who had expected to graduate in 2020 wonder how they will keep up their knowledge and preparedness for final exams that determine their future.

The gov't of Malawi announced in May that they would provide 100,000 tablets with sample online lessons for 12th graders hoping to sit for national exams...  However, tablets are not a solution when students have lack access to electricity or to wifi, and have no one to teach them how to use the device. Add the problem of inequity: the Malawi gov't announced the plan in Blantyre (capital city, located in the south), but no one in the northern half of the country was included. And finally, the sample lessons released appear to be teacher lesson plans, not student learning plans.

Staff at MBB believe that radio could be more of an equalizer, and possibly more effective as a learning tool: while schools are closed, hire teachers to conduct the lessons live via local radio stations throughout the country, enabling students to "listen in" and keep learning (or reviewing) material for their graduation exams. For example, there could be 8 slots for airtime lessons, each slot beginning at the top of the hour for a specific subject and lasting 45 minutes.  Even in remote regions, there will be families who have a radio. In places where no one has a radio, the organizing NGOs could purchase and distribute them.  Teachers would be compensated. Learners could maintain safe social distancing. Radio stations would be doing a public service and being compensated for the airtime. Students would learn. Win-Win-Win. 

Mercy Beyond Borders would like to implement this idea in its 5 countries if the school lockdown continues beyond May. This would require quick funding, at least for 1 pilot to test practicality.  National exams are make-or-break threshholds in these countries. Students are very stressed, not knowing how to keep up while schools are shuttered. 

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

Tech inequity. If devices are not available to ALL, then parallel learning opportunities need to be made available to ALL.

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

I am founder/exec dir of Mercy Beyond Borders. I have been a high sch tchr, a refugee camp worker, and mngr of a refugee resettlement prog in the US. I live in Silicon Valley, immersed in tech--but also immersed in the lives of displaced women & girls w/o tech, electricity, library, or well-trained teachers. How to lessen inequity? In this COVID19 time, it might seem "retro" to utilize radio rather than tech -- but where MBB operates, radio is a powerful way for the Scholars to learn from teachers while schools are closed. 

What region are you located in?

  • Eastern Africa

Where are you located?

MBB operates in E.Africa (South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya), S.Africa (Malawi) and the Caribbean (Haiti). We work only with women and girls in places of extreme poverty -- including remote villages and refugee camps. Our work focuses education for girls (K-univ), economic advancement for women, and training in advocacy for women's rights. Our MBB main office is in Santa Clara, CA.

Inspired by (1)

Radio Enseña


Join the conversation:

Photo of Paul Kim

Sister Marilyn -- you might check out these ideas: Use Radio for engaging students and Engaging teachers to promote remote learning through use community radio education programs can effectively help pupils learn at home. I don't know anything about them but here are some funding possibilities: and

View all comments