DW radio program picks up where schools leave off | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 27.06.2012
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DW radio program picks up where schools leave off

DW produces educational radio dramas designed to reach people in remote areas of the world who have no access to schools. And at this year's Global Media Forum, 'LbE' was a hit.

What the listeners of DW's Africa and Afghanistan programs know as a series of radio dramas was presented in the form of a play at DW's international media conference; four journalists from the Africa department along with "Learning by Ear" author Chrispin Mwakideu presented one of their dramas on stage. It was the story of a girl named Karembo who tries to teach her parents what she learned in school. For example, that washing one's hands can help prevent the spread of disease.

Taboo topics

Scene from the play: Karembo lying on the floor

There is a happy ending to Karembo's story

The radio program Learning by Ear (LbE) addresses topics that are not discussed in schools and which are also usually taboo at home.

"My parents have a pretty good education. But they would never sit down with me and talk about things like sex, politics or political participation," explains Emmy Chirchir, a media consultant from Kenya.

The same goes for conservative societies like Afghanistan and Northern Nigeria. Faruk Dalhatu broadcasts Learning by Ear on Freedom Radio. The program has proven to be a success in Nigeria. Dalhatu says that is due to the format. Anything having to do with sex or sex education is rejected, he says. Girls' education is also viewed critically.

"But this program is packaged so well that the message is strong enough to get across and to withstand resistance," Faruk Dalhatu explains.

LbE Afghanistan

Scene from the play: Karembo's father

Karembo's father would prefer she stayed home to do chores

In Afghanistan, LbE, which addresses topics like forced marriage and drugs, has also received positive feed back. Arif Farahmand of DW's Afghanistan department is happy to be part of the success.

"The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Information and Culture have warmly welcomed the program Learning by Ear. They have also encouraged Afghan media to adopt similar programs."

Currently, only two percent of airtime is allocated to educational programs in Afghan media.

Home schooling for women

Pannel discussion with representatives from Afghanistan, Africa and Germany

Representatives from Afghanistan, Africa and Germany talk education at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum

The small amount of attention paid to education in the media is representative of the country's educational situation, according to Ursula Nölle, who for decades has been setting up schools in Afghanistan with her own organization.

She says that girls are still very underprivileged in terms of education. Nölle's organization "Afghanistan-Schulen" (Afghanistan schools) has set up classes for girls in private houses.

The schools are not only for girls, but also for women who want to learn to read and write, Nölle explains. Some of them are even in their late 40s. "They say, 'my son has completed school and I can't even write my own name.''"

There is a happy end to Karembo's story, at least. In the play, she is allowed to continue to go to school, although her father would rather keep her around the house for chores.

Author: Maja Braun / sb
Editor: John Blau

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