March 31, 2005

PROJECTS: Radio Education For Afghan Children (REACH) - Afghanistan

Radio Education For Afghan Children (REACH) - Afghanistan

BBC's Afghan Education Project (AEP) has developed Radio Education for Afghan Children (REACH) to help address the educational needs of Afghan children aged 6 to 16 who have missed most or all of their schooling. It is hoped that, by listening to the weekly radio programmes at home, children will be exposed to Afghanistan's traditions, culture, and history, as well as receive information about present-day concerns such as mine awareness and health education. These programme are designed to encourage active learning in the environment.

Main Communication Strategies
REACH programmes are broadcast 6 days a week on BBC World Service's Persian and Pashto Services at 0100 GMT and repeated at midday in Afghanistan. Programmes are repeated within the same week. The 15-minute Our World, Our Future series is designed to broaden children's horizons by stimulating their imagination and their desire to learn. It comprises five different programme strands. They include:
  1. Stories For Living: Stories to stimulate children's imaginations
  2. Curtain Of Secrets: Reveals the secrets in the natural world
  3. Faces and Places: Information about people and places inside Afghanistan and beyond
  4. The Pedlar's Bag: A magazine programme for younger listeners that includes stories, interviews, numeracy games, and riddles
  5. Castle Of A Thousand Windows: A magazine programme for teenagers that deals with topics that affect young people's lives
The idea here is not to replace formal education, but, rather to complement and enhance it with learning about the local physical environment and about Afghan life. Our World, Our Future is intended to be entertaining and relevant to children's everyday lives. The programmes are child-centred and encourage listeners to become active learners by giving them tasks to do during and after the programmes that are meant to empower them to learn independently in their local surroundings. In short, the programmes are intended to stimulate children's desire to think and learn for themselves without the help of teachers or books. BBC World Service's EurAsia Regional Head David Morton comments: 'REACH is not really a replacement for schooling: you can not provide formal education with a curriculum over the radio when there is no support on the ground - no teachers to reinforce the messages, no texts and notes for pupils to study in their own time. REACH does not teach: it gets children to learn by awakening their curiosity, helping them understand and ask questions about the world, helping them set their lives in a wider context.'

All of the programme staff, writers, and actors at BBC AEP are themselves Afghan refugees. By liasing with Afghan children and piloting ideas in refugee camps and in Afghanistan, these personnel take their cue from the audience. Because of difficulties associated with distributing books or worksheets to potential listeners in all parts of Afghanistan, and because the intended audience tends to have low levels of literacy, the programmes are designed to be effective without print materials.

Development Issues
Children, Youth, Education.

Key Points
According to organisers, years of fighting (and, more recently, Taliban government restrictions) have meant that many children and young people throughout Afghanistan have missed their schooling.

The AEP has been operating since April 1994 and out of Kabul since October 2002. This radio initiative follows the drama New Home, New Life; an independent survey (CIET 1997) concluded that of the 50% of Afghans who regularly listened to the BBC, 93% listened to that drama.

REACH is funded by the UK Department for International Development, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

For more information, contact:
Shirazuddin Siddiqi (Kabul)
House #271
1st St
Qalai Najara
Next to New Zarif Pharmacy
Khair Khana, KABUL
Tel.: 0093 202400495
Fax: 0093 70278093

"Radio Education For Afghan Children", dated July 11 2001, on the BBC World Service Trust website; and "REACH: Radio for Children", dated September 4 2003, on the BBC World Service Trust website; and email from Shirazuddin Siddiqi to The Communication Initiative on March 17 2005.

Placed on the Communication Initiative site February 17 2004.
Last Updated March 17 2005.

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