A DW-AKADEMIE project in the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan aims to improve the learning opportunities for the children and young people living there. The main focus is on television programming for children.
Despite considerable efforts by the international community, the education situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan remains catastrophic. In Afghanistan almost 70 per cent of the boys and 80 per cent of the girls cannot read or write. In neighbouring Pakistan only 30 per cent of the children complete elementary school.
There are various reasons for this, says DW-AKADEMIE project manager Florian Weigand. “On the one hand safety is an issue in the Pashtun areas. On the other hand, the Taliban and radically traditional values are on the rise again.” Weigand has just completed a workshop module in Pakistan. “Our goal is to improve children’s educational and information programs shown on Afghan and Pakistani television.”
The project “Knowledge is Fun – Children’s Television for the Pashtun Areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan” began in May when journalists from Pakistan and Afghanistan visited the children’s film festival “Prix Jeunesse” in Munich, and the German public television children’s channel, KI.KA, in Erfurt. The first workshop module was held in June and July in Kabul. Weigand assisted journalists, hosts and technicians at Shamshad TV with the launching of their new children’s program. He also travelled to Baragali, some 150 kilometers northwest of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. There he worked with journalists from Khyber TV and the University of Peshawar’s Campus TV/Radio on developing their programming for children.
“We’d like to improve existing children’s programs and introduce new formats,” says Weigand. DW-AKADEMIE uses some highly acclaimed German children’s programs as examples, but adapts ideas to the different cultural setting. “We’d like to give young people in the Pashtun areas an opportunity to develop through learning and to get a sense of what they might later do professionally,” Weigand adds.
To date, quality educational children’s and youth-oriented programs are scarce in the region. “I have children myself and know how important it is to have suitable and well-conceived children’s programs,” says one of the Pakistani participants. “Otherwise the children just watch cartoons.” Another participant stresses, “The workshop has completely changed my attitude toward children’s television. I used to think it was one of the most boring areas for journalists. Now I realize it’s one of the most challenging.”
The project is to continue this year. Further workshops are planned to take place in Kabul and Islamabad this October and November.