Educational Radio – is it viable?

In the days of internet connectivity, smart phone, blackberry, tab and pad, delivering education via radio seemed like so yesterday. With internet connectivity in the country reaching almost 70% and broadband penetration coming to 60%, people forget that radio is one of the most powerful medium of communication. In contrast to other ICT driven techniques, use of radio in education were well researched and has proven to be successful. In the words of Prof Larry Cuban, the actual effect of ICT and the internet  in improving education has never been conclusively proven. It is much hyped with very little to show, despite billions of dollars of investment, the tangible improvement in education is minimal. Improvement, if any, were incidental rather than intentional. Many initiatives were driven by economics rather than educational. Well, it is still open for debate.

On the other hand, educational  radio has been proven in many researches  able to provide actual tangible improvement to learning achievement. Unfortunately, despite its proven effectiveness, radio has been relegated to the backwaters of educational technology, much like educational TV. UNESCO reports of success in Australia and Africa in using radios as part of interactive education. Interactive? How interactive could radio education be? Back in the late sixties, in the afternoon after school, I would normally herd my goats to the open field in my village or to the rubber plantation nearby. I would bring long a small transistor radio. In those days, between 2-3pm daily  there would be educational radio transmission. Perched on top of one of young rubber tree branch, I would intently listened to the transmission of the educational radio. I would try to follow whatever instructions given by the compere. I reckon, it was interactive in that sense. There was no phone in or email or SMS in those days. You have to write in physically to state your views or enter any competition. But, why should I be climbing the rubber tree to listen to the radio? for better transmission? No, perched on top of the tree I can get a better view of the where about of my goats. The old man who owned the orchard next door did not take too kindly of his young  rubber saplings being devoured by my goats. Well that was a bit of nostalgia about educational radio. Kids these days had a lot of other alternatives for info and entertainment and would radio be able to attract them? What about schools in the remote islands off Sabah or interior of sarawak where even electrical supply is only available via generators or solar farm?  What sort of contents would be suitable? I don’t reckon kids these days would fancy radio programmes like in the old days. Maybe we should get people like  Aaron Aziz, Faizal Tahir or Yuna to run the programmes it would be attractive.



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