Poverty and conflict have denied many people the chance to attend school. Some of them were too poor to access education, some had their schooling disrupted by conflict or famine, and others ended up needing to take care of family or younger siblings. As a result, many young people and adults have failed to acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills. Even without a formal school certificate, acquiring the ability to read and write would enable these people to better support themselves and their families, and participate more fully in their communities.
With overworked teachers struggling to provide formal education, we have developed innovative approaches that use radio broadcasts and recorded lessons on CDs and MP3s as the foundation for our lessons. Our trainers are taught how to support their students in conjunction with these broadcasts and recordings in order to help people gain basic literacy and numeracy skills within six months. They do not need a school building for this, or to work long school hours. All they need is some equipment, and time and dedication.
Lessons for these classes include locally relevant materials to help address social issues and problems. Humorous skits and stories are often used to help engage listeners. Young people are trained as journalists to collect material for the broadcasts, a much needed profession in post conflict areas.
Our radio literacy programmes have reached many people – both people who enrol in classes and people who are just listeners. The original literacy programme was aired throughout Somalia by the BBC and reached 250,000 learners. These broadcasts are one of the reasons why our organisation is so widely known in Somalia today.
Recorded lessons on CD and MP3 have also been used in displacement camps in Somalia and South Sudan. The radio literacy programme has been run for women, young people and for people living with disabilities – all of whom would otherwise have been denied opportunities to fulfil their potential.
Radio lessons are low-cost, low-profile ways to provide lessons. This makes them perfect to run in areas with conflict including relocation camps.