02 December 2011

On the Airwaves

Everyone knows the saying “knowledge is power” and knowledge comes from information. When you are informed you are able to learn, persuade, rationalize and act.  You can formulate an opinion, actagainst an injustice, learn a new skill, gain understanding, etc….For most of us, information is not hard to come by; instant internet, the 24 hour news networks spitting out information at all hours and newspapers dropped on our doorstep. But for the majority of people around the world, access to these modes of media is impossible, if not incomprehensible. In rural remote areas you would most likely find tenor fifteen people crowded around one device, a radio.

Moyamba is blessed and fortunate to have the Moyamba District Children’s Awareness Radio MODCAR diffusing information to all corners of the District, including a multitude of small villages. MODCAR 94.8 is supported by PLAN International and focused on giving children a voice and a forum to talk about issues most important to them. Peace Corps can be challenging, rewarding and a sometimes perplexing experience. As a volunteer, its not my job to tell people what I personally think is best for them, it’s a collaboration. And it only takes time to figure what they want and how can we mutually work together to succeed. This is how my relationship with MODCAR developed. The station and I both knew we could and should work together but how? That is until the British Council presented an unexpected solution.

Teaching and Learning English Radio is a program created by the British Council sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank and delivered through community radios nationwide. The overall aim of the program is to enhance English teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom and to improve English Comprehension. (This is all my own words and not that if BC). A fellow English Teacher, whom has become my mentor, and I dramatize live on air a teaching lesson directed to work as a teachers’ training to help generate ideas on how to teach different elements of the English Language. Following the teaching lesson, a continuing story acted in English is played which asks questions at different intervals to check for listener comprehension. The story is a series with a new episode every week.  Our only problem is we have no idea if it’s actually working. The feedback from the community has been inherently positive but continuing to work on its impact.

My partnership or should I say “MODCAR marriage” was only strengthened after beginning Teaching and Learning English Radio. The staff and I began to meld, work together and most importantly brainstorm.
Focus on Children was an existing daily program that involved school pupils as its creators, presenters and contributors. Each school in the township, both primary and secondary, has a Focus on Children team which makes up what is called the Children’s Forum. The schools are given a time slot every week to give a sensitization presentation. The kids pick out what topic they want to talk about and write all the talking points. It’s presented like a round table discussion between the kids, each giving reasons why an issue is important. My collaboration effort with Focus on Children is to act as advisor and editor to our Harford Children’s Forum representatives. It’s compelling to see what least girls are eager to present live on air, to see how impassioned they are about grave challenges affecting them everyday and to see their overall boldness, confidence and poise to talk to their peers, parents, community members and grown ups.

There will not be any divorce papers in my marriage to MODCAR who has
a fast moving, fervent and encouraging manager. He is always five steps ahead of me and full of ideas. Never know what he will think of next. I only hope I can continue to contribute to MODCAR’s mission. The first item purchased by many in the developing countries is a radio. The second is shoes.

*Disclaimer: This blog post and blog is solely the opinion of its writer and does express the views of any organization or group mentioned.


Alvaro Gómez Castro said...

Hi, Good article. I agree with you: "knowledge is power" and its subsequent course knowledge comes from the information. Too bad we do not know often use. ! I invite you to visit my blog about literature, philosophy and films:

Greetings from Santa Marta, Colombia

Anonymous said...

Thanks for giving us more details about your radio education. This is exciting, and perhaps duplicable in other countries.I wish we could "tune in"!
Mom & Dad

Anonymous said...

Alli this is so good hear. There is a huge need to train rural teachers in English literacy and this will be a big help to them.
What a great PCV you are!