Community Media/COl/Consultancies/Educational FM

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Developing effective educational programmes for FM: Planning, designing and producing courses for radio


Many universities and colleges in the developing countries of the Commonwealth have FM radio facilities (see note 1, below). Most aspire to using these facilities as part of the teaching/learning process; however the majority of campus-based stations air neither programmes that are part of formal curricula nor programmes for non-formal learning to which they contribute in pedagogical terms. By contrast, the majority of college and university FM radios broadcast in much the same way as commercial stations, providing, at most, opportunities for students of journalism and media to get practical experience.

Key factors that limit the use of local FM for education are cost of specialised human resources and the absence of skills among non-specialised staff. There is a tendency to opt for high-tech approaches that are often high-cost. Most developing country institutions are simply not in a position to hire educational radio specialists. The need, therefore, is for simple, low-cost and technologically appropriate strategies that make use of existing resources. Other factors include the absence of networks to extend educational programmes to multiple FMs (thereby reaching a critical mass of learners).

Long-term goals

As part of its commitment to open and distance learning, COL is developing a programme that aims to enable educational institutions to use FM radio as an integral part of the teaching/learning process. The long-term expected result is an increase in the numbers of regular radio programmes aired as part of 1) existing curricula, and 2) new initiatives for non-formal learning. In order to achieve this result, the capacities of educational institutions to fully integrate radio as a part of their educational programme needs to increase.

Immediate objectives

In the short-term, COL is seeking partners to work with us in the design of a capacity building approach, the creation of related open educational materials, and ‘piloting’ the approach at the National Teachers Institute in Kaduna, Nigeria, and the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kenya, in early 2009.

The approach will focus on distinct capacities that are essential for educational broadcasting:

  1. Planning educational programming involving a variety of stakeholders and partners: bringing together lecturers, instructional designers and radio staff to establish realistic plans and develop appropriate strategies and templates
  2. Designing specific radio programmes as part of course content
  3. Educational programme production: skills training

Specific outputs of the activity will include

  1. Generic approach and materials: a curriculum with clear outputs and outcomes, participatory exercises, 2-3 case studies, etc.
  2. An strategic plan for educational use of FM radio, covering the pilot course(s) and a plan to expand and scale-up
  3. A skilled course team capable of developing and running the identified course
  4. Course design available, including innovative use of internet and mobile technologies; programming on the airwaves


  • Participatory approach that builds local ownership
  • Secure commitments from senior institutional decision-makers to implement plans
  • Work with and develop existing human resources, course materials and facilities
  • Inclusive, engaging, highly participatory workshops focused on tangible results: materials online, skills in development, programmes on-air
  • Promote simple, low-tech, low-cost strategies

Elements of the consultancy

  • Planning with COL (month 1)
  • Consultation with NTI and other stakeholders in Nigeria (month 1-2)
  • Draft approach and materials (month 1-2)
  • Execute training workshops in 2-3 phases (month 2-3)
  • Provide recommendations for expansion and scale-up (month 3)
  • Revise approach and materials (month 3)

Areas of expertise

  • Experience with planning and producing educational radio
  • Strong facilitation and training skills, especially participatory approaches
  • Understanding of education and media in developing country contexts; experience in Nigeria a definite asset
  • Skills in the development of education materials, e.g. curricula, case studies; knowledge of open and distance learning principles a definite asset


  1. National Teachers’ Institute, Kaduna (Nigeria) Headquartered in Kaduna, the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) is a single mode distance education institution dedicated exclusively to continuing professional development of teachers in Nigeria. NTI is an in-service teacher training institution; the current enrolment in upgrading programmes is about 150,000 students in 37 states through nearly 400 local study centres. In addition NTI re-trains 145,000 primary school teachers each year under the Federal Government’s Millennium Development Goals project. Effective use has been made of radio, working with Kaduna State media Corporation (KSMC) , Kaduna state (see note 2, below); owever this has proven to be unsustainable. Some years back COL provided NTI with a simple FM radio facility and basic technical training. Dates: Q1 2009; Location: Kaduna, Nigeria
  2. Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology
  3. TBA, Caribbean region
  1. Since 2000, COL alone has supported 14 educational institutions to establish FM radio facilities: University of Dschang (Cameroon); Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (Kenya); Freetown Teachers College (Sierra Leone); National Open University of Nigeria, National Teachers Institute (Nigeria); Delhi University, National Institute of Open Schooling, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (India); Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (St Lucia); Fiji Institute of Technology; Tarawa Technical Institute (Kiribati); Samoa Polytechnic; Don Bosco Technical Institute (Solomon Islands), Vanuatu Institute of Technology
  2. The successful radio programme was entitled: “Radio for Teacher Development” and was the joint effort of NTI, British Council and KSMC in 2005-2006.