More than two years ago DW Akademie began training producers of kids' and youth TV programs at Afghanistan's state broadcaster, RTA. Forough Hossein Pour is a trainer in the long-term workshop series, "Learning is fun!"
They’re the stars of the Afghani children's program called "Kelkin", or "window". For two years school students Neegeta Sadat and Mobin Hamdard, aged 17 and 18, have been hosting this program for elementary school kids. Neegeta and Mobin record the 40-minute show in front of a studio audience made up of school children.
It's 9:30 in the morning and we're in one of RTA's television studios in Kabul. Recording is due to begin in an hour. Camera operators and lighting technicians are setting up around us, and Neegeta and Mobin are very focused, making some last-minute adjustments to their scripts. "The script needs to flow," says Mobin, "so that it seems as if we’re speaking naturally." Teleprompters aren't available.
"Kelkin" is a bilingual program using Afghanistan's two official languages. Neegeta speaks in Dari and Mobin in Pashto. As part of DW Akademie's "Learning is fun!" long-term project with RTA, we're here today to coach the two hosts. They want to liven up the program and we suggest that they formulate shorter sentences and switch back and forth more frequently during their presentation. They might also include more audience participation, such as asking children direct questions.
Today's show revolves mainly around two topics: dental hygiene and meaningful recreational activities. Recording begins and we're impressed by how Neegeta and Mobin work with our suggestions.
Education in Afghanistan
Statistics show the importance of promoting children's educational programsin Afghanistan. According to UNESCO's latest figures, some 2.4 million Afghani children cannot afford to attend school. Rural kids are particularly affected, but even in the capital, Kabul, the streets are full of children earning a living. Even today, 12 years after the fall of the Taliban, girls make up only 39 percent of the country's 4.8 million schoolchildren.
The media don't appear to betaking the situation seriously. There are approximately 70 television channels currently on air, but only a very few include educational programming for kids. Most just offer entertainment and show cartoons. Our main objective, then, is to progressively create a programming culture based on children's curiosity and providing answers to their questions. The state television's children's program has the advantage that it can be broadcast to even the country's most remote villages.
Youth program with a socio-political focus
RTA also broadcasts the weekly youth magazine, "Donyaye Javanan" ("The World of Youth"). A group of young, enthusiastic TV makers shape the program content, using limited resources and focussing primarily on socio-political issues.
We accompany producer Nouraqa Adeel and camera operator Arian Sultanion a shoot for a story about 18-year-old Shahab. He's in grade 12 and can't study after school because he has to work. It's the same for more than three quarters of the students at his school, says history teacher, Habibollah Mohamamdi.
After class, we go with Shahab to his father's photo shop. "It's only a 15-minute walk from here," he smiles. Shahab usually stays late to help boost the family's income. While we wait for the next customer and take a short break from filming, Shahab pulls out schoolbooks so he can quickly do his math homework. After graduating he'd like to attend university. "I don't exactly know what I'd like to study yet," he says while trimming a freshly printed passport photo of a child, "but it'll have something to do with computers."