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Child Development Radio (CDR): Providing Mentorship and Involving Communities through Radio Broadcasts

Child Development Radio, or CDR, is a radio station network with programs that provide important information and mentorship to parents and caregivers about critical topics on early child development through local leaders, experts and elders. These programs are intended for communities, like those in Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Nambia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia, where radio is a source of local news and a vehicle for social discussion.

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Each community has a network of information and experience waiting to be tapped. The overall aim of Child Development Radio (CDR) is to create access to this network - to provide direct mentorship and resources via radio to parents, engage infants and children through fun, educational segments, and create programs that encourage family bonding. Different programs, as detailed below, will accomplish these goals. 
The CDR program also emphasizes the involvement of community elders and experienced experts in the broadcast itself. We believe the outreach to caregivers can be even more powerful, when listening to advice on the radio from someone within their local community.

Why radio?
In many African communities, radio is being used as a platform for social change and discussions of societal topics.
According to UNESCO, “Radio reaches over 95 percent of people worldwide and several radio stations in Africa have more than a million listeners each.”   [source]
Radio broadcasts directly parallel the oral tradition that exists in Africa. We believe crucial discussions of early child development can be easily implemented through these existing infrastructures.

“Radio listening on new information technology devices, such as the Internet (webcasting) and mobile phones is very significant in Africa today, especially in rural areas where community radios that broadcast programmes in local languages are the most popular tool to stay informed...”
 - Jean-Pierre Ilboudo, Chief of Section Communication and Information at UNESCO’s Regional Office in Dakar, Senegal

Programming and Schedule
Child Development Radio will have daily and weekly programs to engage the community. The tentative daily schedule and programs include:

1) Early morning broadcast - Talk to Experts/ Elders’
  • This morning segment allows experts, experienced parents or elders to share their knowledge and experiences on a certain topic with the local community. Topics in this broadcast will focus on vital aspects of child development. Parents are welcome to ‘call-in’ and ask questions directly to the community experts. This segment is about discussion, as well as providing mentorship to young parents.

Example topics include:
  • Engaging both parents/caregivers in the role of child upbringing
  • Important child vaccinations
  • Early hygiene (eg. washing hands and dental health)
  • Increasing empathy for others
  • Fun games to play with your children 

2) Afternoon broadcast – ‘News/ Educational Segment’ 
  • This segment will occur in early afternoon, perhaps around the time when a child may come home from school. It focuses on educating a child, perhaps through brief spelling or grammar lessons. Local news can also be included. Details on this segment still need to be fleshed out.

3) Evening broadcast - Bedtime Stories’
  • This is a segment where children and their parents/caregivers can listen in to the station for bedtime stories. Each day could have a new story, or perhaps at times there is a continuation of the same story told over several days. Emphasis is placed on having children learn something from the story, whether it be a moral or more traditional educational, eg grammar or spelling. Perhaps the reader is an elder or leader within the community, who want to pass on a story themselves. 

This schedule is an example, and is subject to change with further testing. For example, perhaps the ' Talk to the Experts'  segment occurs twice a week on Wednesdays and Sundays, rather than a daily occurence. 

Long-Term Actualization
This program is intended to be implemented in radio stations already set up in local communities. In order to continue to refine this idea, we need partners in these communities to help us test out these programs. Eventually, a 'curriculm' for these programs can be written, set-up, and adapted by these local stations.



Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

The target beneficiaries in this idea include:

  1. Parents of young children looking for developmental mentorship/tips on how to best raise their child.
  2. Young infants and children (ages 0 - 5) of these families and communities
  3. Leaders and elders of the community looking to become more deeply involved -- and stay involved -- in the daily workings of the community.

Similar to UNESCO’s “Empowering Local Radios with ICT’s” project, we believe communities in Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Nambia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia would most benefit from outreach via radio. However, we’d love feedback from OpenIDEO users who feel there are other communities that would also benefit from CDR.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

In order to test this idea, our team needs to in
1) Identify issues surrounding child development that are prevalent to people in a specific community where we can test. 
2) Create our own example podcasts and debut it to the community.
3) Receive feedback from the members of the community, and tailor the available programs to fit their needs.



What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

We need international partners/organizations who are interested in collaborating with us and willing to test this idea in their own communities, such as the ones we’ve mentioned. We would love for an expert on child development to help us develop a array of topics or ‘curriculum’ that need to be discussed, including ones specifically relevant to the communities benefiting from the idea. 

Most importantly, feedback, comments and concerns from the OpenIDEO community are always appreciated. Here are some other specific questions we’d love the OpenIDEO community to help us answer:
  • What other communities around the world could benefit from a program similar to CDR?
  • What additional ideas for broadcasts/ programs could be implemented in a program like CDR?
  • What days/ times are most effective for outreach to listeners in these communities? 
  • What are some ways we can encourage the community to participate in these radio discussions, both as ‘experts’ and as ‘listeners’?

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.


Join the conversation:

Photo of wekesa zab

Halo Laura .. This is interesting .. Using radio as a curious to know more ..on the implications of this beyond existing radio interventions.. How might we get these listening communities to actually put to use the information they gain on radio long enough to see the benefits from it?

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