Did you know that radio can help girls to stay in school?

February 13, 2020 12:14 pm

On World Radio Day, we’re celebrating the role of Our School radio programme as a tool to encourage families and communities in South Sudan to get their girls into school.

In South Sudan where so many face poverty, insecurity and violence, as well as cultural traditions that may discourage girls’ education, simply providing money and support for teachers and classrooms is not enough: families need to believe that it’s important to educate their daughters!

How do we change negative attitudes towards girls’ education?

Radio is the most common way of receiving news and information in South Sudan. Our use of radio allows us to reach remote communities across the whole country.

This is where Our School comes in. Our School is a series of 15-minute, factual radio programmes featuring real-life stories of girls, families and schools. Subjects range from how girls might walk to school together in groups for safety and company; how too many chores can interfere with studies; or even how children who have fled conflict have been welcomed at other schools even without the right documents.

“I used to overwork my girl at home and the boys don’t do any work, so the girls arrive late to school. I implemented the learning from the radio programme that work should be equally shared among boys and now my sons and daughter arrives early to school and they perform better.” one woman, Busenya Jackson, told BBC Media Action.

Girls in Kuajok attend to housework instead of going to school to learn.

Girls in Kuajok attend to housework instead of going to school to learn.

Our endline research from the first phase of GESS demonstrated that we reached an estimated 1.8 million people through the radio programmes. That’s nearly one-third of the adult population of South Sudan! Regular listeners who had children were significantly more likely to talk to their daughters about education and to understand the benefits.

How do we ensure impact?

What’s really important is that these programmes are produced in local languages with local voices. Our producers are based in seven out of South Sudan’s former 10 states and produce the programme in 9 local languages. They create locally-tailored episodes with real stories of girls enrolling in and staying in school.

Our work with local broadcasters in producing discussion programmes gives audiences a chance to ask questions and debate the issues at hand – providing the space to drive change.

Girls in Maban County after listening to an episode of ‘Our School’ on a solar-powered, wind-up radio

What are our listeners saying?

“I used to disagree very much with the idea of sending children to school,” one father, Deng Wol Wol, told BBC Media Action. Though he himself had never been to school, he found himself changing his mind after listening to the programme “Through radio I learned to change my mind. A girl can learn and become clever if she starts education…That way she can learn many things.”

“My daughter got pregnant with a boy she met at school so I sent her away from home to live with her husband. After taking part in the listening group, I decided to return my daughter back to my house and sent her back to school. Now I am responsible to take care of her child”, Margret Apara, told BBC Media Action

Complex social and behavioural change doesn’t happen overnight. But radio can help reach some of the most fragile and remote parts of the world, sparking ideas and conversations that can change lives.

The second phase of GESS, funded by UK aid and Global Affairs Canada, will continue to use radio as a tool to reach every corner of South Sudan with education enabling messages. The behaviour change activities support our cash programming and quality education interventions to ensure that girls are enrolling in school and learning.

To listen to a selection of our radio programmes, go here.

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