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Background: settings and location
Community Radio Madanpokhara (CRM) went on air in 2000 as the first village based community radio station in Nepal. The radio station is perched on the hillside of the large fertile Madi Valley, 1.5 kilometers from the main highway that joins Palpa to adjoining districts. It broadcasts for 16.5 hours a day, 7 days a week. The main goal of the radio station is to contribute to local development by promoting public awareness and dialogue, knowledge sharing, good governance, community participation and local culture and positive entertainment. It is run, managed and controlled by the broad based media committee comprising of various community people engaged in development works, though Madanpokhara Village Development Committee (VDC) is the legal license holder of the station. In late 2004 with support from UNESCO station added the telecentre facilities, which aim to expand community’s access to information resources and communication tools, both directly through public and training, and indirectly through integration with radio
With a population of approximately 8000, Madanpokhara is VDC located in the Palpa District in Western Nepal. The ethnic Magar community is the most dominant population in the area. The main economic activities of the area include subsistence farming of rice, vegetables, coffee, bee keeping, animal husbandry, poultry and livestocks. Due to its relatively high literacy rates, above average development indicators and history of innovation in fields such as agriculture and forestry, Madanpokhara is often referred to by the government as ‘a model rural village’.
Education in Palpa:
According to District Education Office (DEO), Palpa district pass percentage in 2008 School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination is 44.88%. The corresponding figures for 2007 and 2006 were 43% and 32.13% respectively. In the year 2005 and 2004 the pass percentage in the SLC examination were 26.43% and 38% respectively. The figures and the data shows that the pass percentage falling every year until 2006. An analysis of the figures shows that students from rural area, ethnic, dalit and backward communities predominate among the failures.
The main reason behind the failure is none other than the political instability of the country.
“12 years of conflict (People War led by Maoist) in the country was the main reason of the fall in the pass percentage of students”, says Gunakar Aryal, Station Manager of CRM
The education policy and programs adopted by the government have also played a negative role. The shortage of trained and motivated teachers, under staffed, under funded government schools, lack of infrastructure and resources, limited skilled teachers, overcrowded classrooms, discrimination between the permanent and temporary teachers are other main reasons that is affecting the educational standard in Palpa. In addition the remote areas that are inaccessible face more problem with limited resources and facilities.
“The education policy and programs adopted by the government lacks the focus on rural areas. Policy adopted by the government at the central level are driven and dictated by the funding and international donor agencies. This policy overlooks the ground reality of the situation of rural areas. In addition the rural areas lack resources and infrastructure like skilled teachers, limited funds, over crowded classroom where by there is less awareness and environment of education and learning amongst the parents and students in the rural areas leading to high rate of school drop outs. The frequent change in the syllabus has also affected students’ education. This year too there has been change in syllabus and over a month has already passed, there are still no textbooks available in the school or market”, says Narayan Adhikari, Principal of Shri Divya Jyoti Higher Secondary School
Politicization of education is another main reason as quite clearly indicated with frequent changes in the syllabus with change in the government. During the time of research, DEO was locked out by the student political activities in protest against the non-availability of the new textbooks. Schools remained closed for couple of weeks for the same reason
Hamro Pathshala (meaning Our School in Nepali)
Hamro Pathshala (HP) is a distance education of CRM ideally designed for rural students of Palpa and its neighbouring districts in Nepal. The programme was initiated in August 2005 with support from UNESCO.
“Majority of the students going to Govt schools cannot afford private tuitions due to financial crisis and the distance education promoted by radio has helped students get free education staying at home. Students learn staying at home, which also saves their time. The programme also came at the right time when the students were facing crisis of strikes and irregularities of classes with absence of teachers at the time of conflict. Though there is a change in the school syllabus for the classes nine and ten but there is nothing to worry for radio station as the important lesson is that the radio has created an environment of learning and has made it possible that the radio as a medium for learning”, says Mr Nabaraj Sharma, DEO of Palpa District
“Being a community radio, majority of the programme is based on the needs of the community. Similarly the HP was also as per the needs of the local community at the time when the conflict in the country was at peak and that was the time when the strike of transportation and closure of school happened regularly. This heavily affected students’ education. This was reflected in the SLC results data as the pass percentage was falling every year. Maoist restricted even the private tuition. After having such experience and the community concerns about their children’s education CRM came up with the idea of distance education in reaching to students even at the time of strike and especially to ones who are poor and marginalized and could not afford any kind of extra tuition due to financial constraint and household chores”, says Gunakar Aryal, Station Manager of CRM
In the first year, the programme was broadcast for class eight and in the following year for classes eight and nine and in the third year for classes eight, nine and ten. Until April 2008 the half an hour programme was on air nine times a week. Since May 2008 the programme is on air thrice a week covering the subjects of class ten alone. The main focus of the programme is to increase the pass percentage of School Leaving Certificate (SLC), which is the first official recognized national education degree to students in Nepal. Recently the programme completed its third year of academic session and this year pass percentage is 44.88, which is better as compared to last few years.
The concept of the distance education was initially developed by radio with assistance from UNESCO. The idea was then shared with the DEO who encouraged in doing such programme. The idea was further supported by data of the SLC results that was provided by DEO. With initial research mostly through the analysis of the data of SLC results, it was found that maximum students failed in three subjects: Maths, Science and English. A team from radio and DEO after rounds of meeting decided to do a programme on three subjects and recruit teachers on a voluntary basis from the local government schools. Four teachers were selected from four different schools as part of the course team to volunteer and their schools were also identified as the pilot school for the programme. These teachers and their schools were then engaged in the planning of the programme.
A training programme was organized for teachers on basic radio skill with assistance from UNESCO. During the training, teachers learnt the art of radio skill especially in writing script and programme design. In the course of training the initial planning was revisited and along with teachers, trainer and staffs from radio drafted the programme schedule and designed the programme which would be the base for the start of the programme. At the end of three days training, teachers with assistance from the technical staff of radio produced three dummy programmes in three subjects. The role of course teachers and the production staff of the radio were identified. Course teachers would be responsible for the content creation and the production team would provide technical assistance to course teachers.
After the training, course teachers, management team of the radio and representatives from DEO decided to create three member advisory and monitoring committee for the programme who would be responsible to provide feedback and suggestions about the programme through their observation. It was also decided that the course teachers and the production staff of the radio station would meet once a month to revisit the plan and brainstorm on the feedbacks of the programme.
Monitoring and advisory committee responsible to observe, listen, suggest, comment and provide feedback about the programme when they meet with radio staff and the course teachers on a quarterly basis. Management of the radio is responsible for the overall coordination.
After a week of broadcasting, the team of HP (course teachers and production team) visited the local schools to create awareness about the programme and school to support the programme. The pilot schools were supported with a desktop computer for students to listen the programme during the school hour and provide feedback to the radio. During the school visits teachers and students were requested to cooperate, encourage students to listen and provide feedback to the programme.
Feedback of the programme is through letters from students and teachers, word-of-mouth, phone and through the field visit by radio staffs.
Programme Development Process Summary
In short the summary of the development process of the programme is as follows:
- Primary planning by radio staffs with DEO
- Data collection and analysis
- Subjects identified
- Identified and selected course teachers for the programme
- Identified pilot schools
- Drafted action plan involving course teachers and teachers from the pilot schools with inputs from DEO
- Training needs identified
- Training organized for course teachers and the production team
- Dummy produced during the training
- Revisited the draft action plan during the training
- Drafted the programme design and schedule
- Three member advisory and monitoring committee formed with representatives from Schools and DEO
- Role of course teachers, production staff and advisory committee identified
- Field visits to schools in creating awareness and describing about the programme
Local teachers from three local higher secondary schools run the programme with technical assistance from the production team of radio. The programme is designed by teachers based on the annual schedule as discussed with management team. The half an hour programme has 90% of the actual teaching from teachers on subject content based on the school syllabus and rest 10% covers the educational information, news and awareness activities around the district, learning tips for students and teaching tips for local teachers. The programme opens with solving the problem of the homework/assignment of the last episode and ends the actual teaching with the homework for students.
“In half an hour programme 22 minutes is slotted for actual teaching and another six minutes for the chapter initial, recap, homework and community education and activities”, says Rajesh Aryal, Chief Programme Producer of Community Radio Madanpokhara
Content prepared by course teachers are recorded in the studio and the production team assist in editing the content to finally package the content for broadcast. In the half an hour programme the role of the course teacher is for actual teaching with focus on content of the subject. Besides actual teaching, teachers also focus on effective learning process for students, teaching process for teachers, educational awareness and guidance to students and their teachers and parents.
Production team besides assisting course teachers in editing are also responsible to find educational information from various sources including Internet to share with the listeners between the programme. The team from the radio is also responsible to coordinate with course teachers on the feedbacks letters sent by listeners. Feedbacks sent by listeners are integral to the programme design as it forms the source of scheduling a new programme.
The design of the programme is revisited during monthly meeting between the management of the radio and the course teachers. Besides this regular programme there is a questionnaire programme for half an hour once a month to summarize a month teaching with focus on questions. Students with the best answers are rewarded by radio with sponsors coming from local business organization.
The assistance of local schools to the programme is to create awareness about the programme to students and encourage them to listen and provide regular feedback.
“Headmaster once told us that class nine programme has started and he asked us to listen to the programm. One of my friends who is talented and good in studies was a girl. She was keen on learning but her parent refused her to listen to radio. One day when her parent had gone out she went to her grandmother’s place to listen to the programme. She was very interested but her parents did not want her to continue her studies as she being a girl. It depends on the interest of the students”, says Sumitra Bishwakarma, Student from Shri Laxmi Secondary School
Schools that have course teachers involved in the programme cooperate with course teachers in case if they need any assistance and support. In some schools teachers are engaged to the programme indirectly as they are the ones to solve the doubts raised by students in the classroom. This makes teachers responsible to listen to the programme.
“I encourage my students to listen to the radio programme because this is as good as one taking private tuition and if one listens and follow regularly there is no need of taking private tuition. I too listen to this programme regularly to learn the good teaching tips and skills of that teacher as we compete with other schools to do better”, says Deepak, Science Teacher in Damkada Higher Secondary School
“My parents switches off the television and other radio programme when the time is ready for HP. Parents encourage that we listen to HP when is on air. Sometimes parents too take interest to listen the programme”, says Bindu Neupane, Student from Shri Baghwati Higher Secondary School
The main achievement of the programme is that it completed three years of broadcasting in April 2008. This year the management has decided to go with class ten leaving out classes eight and nine. Three years of successful broadcasting is the indication of commitment from the management of radio station with no external assistance and support for the implementation of the programme. Despite of high cost of production and financial pressure, radio commits to continue with class ten to fulfill the needs of the students. This year SLC result with 44.88 percent pass as compared to 26.43 percent in 2005, the year it started broadcasting, indicates the impact of the programme. The radio’s main goal was to see the impact after three years of its broadcasting. Radio had a target of 50 percent pass after three years, which still fall short of about 5 percent. According to some of the schools that were visited, it was found that the pass percentage improved in the initial year when this course was introduced for class eight.
“In my school there has been progress in the results of class eight and nine students ever since this program started in the radio”, says Bindu Neupane, Student from Shri Baghwati Higher Secondary School
The success of the programme is reflected in the participatory planning that was done by radio along with other stakeholders. Participatory planning involved stakeholders from the schools, teachers, students and local government represented by DEO. The involvement of representatives from the DEO and course teachers for the initial year was on a voluntary basis. Teachers today receive a token of incentive to cover their travel expenses but sharing their skill, time and expertise continues to be volunteered. The introduction of the programme was based on the need of the community and through research findings mostly through data collected from DEO.
Skill and capacity building training to teachers was part of the success of the programme as it brought in confidence to teachers to teach through radio. Improvement in the teaching skill of the course teachers and overcome of fear to speak in front of mike was found among these teacher. In the first year the feedback received from the monitoring and advisory committee proved to be the success of programme improvement.
“As a teacher I have benefited in my own individual capacity. There is improvement in my teaching quality. It has made me more punctual and work according to plan. Once we are in front of media one has to stick to plan and teach accordingingly. Such is difficult in the classroom, as we tend to divert and take more time in teaching than allotted. While teaching in classroom time factor is overlooked whereas when we teach through radio we stick to time line. This way in half an hour we teach more than what we teach in the classroom. When we teach from radio our minds are not diverted and we stay focused while teaching. This has been my personal experience as a teacher when I compare myself with my classroom teaching. On a personal side, my popularity has gained and expectations from the students have increased not only from the students of my school but from other schools as well. Equally important to be accurate when we speak in media since it is very sensitive as students learn from what we speak”, experience of Dinesh Bashyal, Mathematic Course Teacher in Radio
“Don’t see other teacher coming forward to participate and taking the responsibility to teach. The main reason is that teachers are not confident, as they fear speaking in front of the mike of making mistakes. I too had that fear when at the time of training and did not realize I would be actually teaching. When the training got over we made few dummy programmes and that pushed us to take up the responsibility. Not sure how well we are doing”, says Lokendra Thapa, English Teacher of HP
Station on an average receives over 60 letters a week for each of the programme. Science, which was found to be most popular amongst three subjects receives over 100 letters a week. The other feedback tools are mostly through word of mouth and phone. Most of the letters have either questions or doubts raised by students.
HP branded as Naya School (New School) by local people and this raised the potentiality of radio as medium for education and learning
The headmaster from Mandali Secondary School says, “In the first year itself it was found that the learning environment was created not only amongst students and teachers but also with some of the parents especially the illiterate family who never prioritized their children education. Such parents were made aware and conscious about children education. This increased the guardianship towards their children and guiding children to listen to programme. It has its own brand as Naya School (New School) amongst some of the people in the area”.
“For intelligent and talent students, HP is very effective though intelligent students are anxious to learn and even in the classroom I see many of my classmates discussing about the subject taught in the last programme. This is equally effective for the weaker students as they may not understand or find it difficult to follow the teaching in the radio but they do ask their doubts in the classroom with other friends and clarify their doubts. HP in a way have created an environment of learning. Teacher in the radio not only teach but also guide students and this programme has raised interest in some of the parents”, says some of class ten students from Damkada
It is important that HP was able to create an environment of learning amongst the community people. Even if the parents are illiterate they atleast get the feel that there is education through radio. Such parents make conscious effort whether the students are following the HP and doing their homework as provided in radio. So it actually created the environment of learning in the society, which is positive. Radio is known far and wide due to the popularity of HP. It had created its own brand”, says rajesh Aryal, Chief Programme Producer
Students generated discussion amongst themselves in the schools about the content taught in radio. Interaction in the classroom increased between students and teachers as students raised their doubts about the home work that were provided through radio teaching
“Interaction and discussion amongst students and between teachers and students have increased, which has forced teachers to listen to Hamro Pathshala as teachers from radio often announces that school teachers will support in solving the doubts”, says Ashmita Bhattarai, Class Ten Student of Damkada Higher Secondary School
“There is increase interaction amongst students as they bring different questions to their school teachers. And there are instances where students record the programme as this has been the case with my son. When they find it difficult to follow at the time of broadcast they will replay to become clarify”, says Narayan Adhikari, Principal of Shri Divya Jyoti Higher Secondary School
“Rajesh Aryal from the radio used to announce after the progrmmae that if they were not able to follow some of the chapters or doubts that they should ask the teachers in the school on the following day”, says Sumitra Bishwakarma, Student from Shri Laxmi Secondary School
Besides students there were some of the teachers who were interested into the programme to observe the teaching skill that would benefit in their own teaching skill
“I used to follow the programme for my own benefit to copy the good teaching skills which would increase my competency”, says Deepak, Science Teacher from Damkada
“There is indirect involvement of local teachers from school into the programme. When the questions are provided through radio, teachers in the schools are best to come up with solution in the classroom more than the course teachers from radio. In some schools, students raising questions in the classroom put teachers under pressure as it has increase the competency. Some teachers I see have become active as students compare their teaching with teaching through radio”, says Lokendra Thapa, English Teacher of HP
There was punctuality and discipline in course teachers since the programme was alternate to classroom teaching and teachers were following the syllabus set by schools.
Questionnaire once a month had encouraged students participation as the best students were rewarded.
Hamro Pathshala had a very good launch and was particularly very effective in the first year of the programme. Everybody involved in the team were enthusiastic and motivated. Teachers were excited and were equally keen to learn. Alongside broadcasting, field visits to different schools were conducted by both teachers and radio staffs. That was the only field visit that was undertaken in past three years. It was found during the research that schools that had maximum listeners of HP were the ones who happen to know about the programme through field visits by team of HP from radio. The programme there after lacked the communication and coordination with schools as there was no field visit by teachers any longer. This had an affect in the programme as experienced in research that there was lesser listeners from schools that were not visited by the team as compared to one that were visited. This indicates that the broadcasting through radio alone is not enough; it is equally necessary to reach out to community/students through field visits or meetings in order to have greater participation from both teachers and students. Radio having extensive resources in the field in the form of listeners clubs, radio representative and women communication are not in use for this programme. Radio lacks in optimizing these resources to reach out or aware about these programme in different schools.
“Reach of HP is effective amongst the educated as compared to the uneducated families as there is wider participation from the educated families. Amongst the illiterate there is still not much impact and radio in order to reach these community will have to think it differently and how it can reach it effectively. May be by using the resources of its listener clubs, women communication group and friends club with direct awareness through various programmes. When teaching learning environment is not effective in school itself, it is not easy to create such environment through radio. Radio should look at ways of creating awareness through face-to-face visit and various other pragrammes through field visits and various discussions”, says Narayan Adhikari, Principal of Shri Divya Jyoti Higher Secondary School
The main target of the programme is for the weaker students and the research findings shows it is the above average students who has taken advantage of the programme as compared to weak students. The main reason as shared by many respondents is that the programme is either too fast and weak students finds it difficult to follow and it is not repeated. Since weak students find it difficult to follow, over the period of time they lose interest and do not listen to the programme any longer. The programme also sets a higher standard, which does not suit the weaker students. Many respondents said that when teachers in the classroom repeats number of times about the same content, weak students still finds difficult to follow and how is it possible for weak students to understands through radio broadcasting, which is not repeated.
“The impact of the programme is more with intelligent and talented students as they have taken the most benefit out of this programme. This was seen during our field visits to school. In the case of weaker students they do not show keen to learn and do not take time out to listen the programme whereas the good students manages the time to listen. And there is nothing that one can do when one does not want to learn, says Dinesh Bashyal, Mathematics Teachers
The pronunciation and clarity of the voice was another concern to students especially in English when they find difficulty in following words since English being third language in Nepal. Difficulty in understanding English was expressed by many as the demand to teach English in Nepali was maximum amongst the rural government school. As for now it is being taught in Nepali.
The impact of the programme in the first year was largely with proper management and coordination of the programme but the same enthusiasm was not found in the second year onwards due to lack of coordination and team effort. This was resulted as the advisory and monitoring committee was no longer active from the second year and the meeting between course teachers and radio staffs did not happen as planned.
“Majority of the students going to Govt schools cannot afford private tuitions due to financial crisis and the distance education promoted by radio has helped students get free education staying at home. Students learn staying at home which also saves their time. The programme also came at the right time when the students were facing crisis of strikes and irregularities of classes with absence of teachers at the time of conflict. Though there is a change in the school syllabus for the classes nine and ten but there is nothing to worry for radio station as the important lesson is that the radio has created an environment of learning and has made it possible that the radio as a medium for learnin”, says Uma Nath Ghimire, School Supervisor from DEO
“Programme has created awareness and not only in the Palpa region but far away districts. Students have expressed keen interest as compared to teachers and I do not see required support from the resource people including teachers and supervisors. Monitoring committee lacks support and motivation, as they have not been able to provide feedback and suggestions as planned. This has affected the programme to certain degree Meetings with the team has not been regular as proposed and this is due to lack of coordination from the radio”, says Nandalal Poudel, School Supervisor from DEO and one of the members in HP’s advisory and monitoring committee
Relying on limited individual teacher is pressure and handicap to radio at the time when the teacher stay sick or busy for some other work. It lacks support teachers in the programme as compared to one of the radio station who runs a similar programme but are doing the programme in partnership with teachers association. This leaves less pressure to radio as the management of teachers is under the responsibility of association. But in the case of CRM the agreement is with individual teacher instead of association. Agreement with association stays safe as the teachers under any situation would be made available by the association.
“Lack of motivation as the programme progresses and such has been the trend in Nepal. Selected few teachers have given their commitment. Initially the programme was less and as the year progress same teachers had to work more, which was difficult due to lack of resources as there was increased in programme but the quality of the programme was affected and it was also not possible for radio to increase the manpower as this would lead to increase in the cost of production. Managing the time for teachers started becoming difficult when they went ahead with three classes. One of major problem of decrease in the quality of teaching was that the teachers were overloaded with the assignment as the same teacher had to prepare for three classes. Suggest that focus the programme with quality even if it is less since teachers are too busy”, says Nandalal Poudel, School Supervisor from DEO and one of the members in HP’s advisory and monitoring committee
Radio must prepare the alternate or back up teachers as there is no guarantee that the same teacher will continue
In the long run programme is in the danger of facing financial sustainability since this programme has high cost of production as compared to other programmes in the radio. It is very time consuming and needs maximum resources in terms of manpower, reference materials. With volunteerism from teachers becoming extremely difficult radio decided to leave out the programmes for classes eight and nine. Radio in between stopped broadcasting HP for two months when teachers threatened to pull out if they are not provided with incentives or radio should make an arrangement of alternate teachers as a support staff.
“We thought of continuing with eight and nine as well but managing the time by the same teacher was becoming very difficult since it is a very time consuming production and the radio as an organization was not in a position to increase additional teachers due to high cost factor. Re-broadcasting of the previous programme is not possible as there is change in syllabus”, says one of the course teacher
The 9:15 PM broadcast timing does not suit students as it is too late in the night and this needs to be rescheduled. Demand from students to increase the allocated half an hour per programme to one hour. This should slow the pace of teaching, which would allow weaker students to follow the programme.
“The current broadcast timing is not in the interest of students”, says one of the local teacher
“HP time needs to be revisited, it is too late in the night and suggest that time should be as per the convenient of students. The allotted time of half an hour should increase”, Ashmita Bhattrai, student from Damkada School
Listeners of this programme is less in urban area as compared to rural area as the programme is focus towards rural area and it is also due to weak coverage and signal of radio in some of the areas.
The role of the pilot centre especially for the purpose of listening centre is not active and there is very limited use of new technologies like internet into the programme
No role of new media and new technology. The resources that teachers rely on are the textbooks
“Internet skill by teachers needs to be adapted as majority of the teachers from the rural areas are not aware”, says one of the teacher from Mandali Secondary School
Demand for the guess paper (focus towards important questions for examination) is high amongst the students before the start of exam. Similar programme is run by a near by radio station and is popular amongst students and find it useful. Since CRM does not focus on such teaching, it would be useful to start a month before the exam.
“Tuition on Air (TOA) from Srinagar FM targets SLC students and focus is on increasing or improving the SLC results with exam oriented learning tricks and tips. It runs just before exam for a month. Master the examination is the priority and it is not a year long programme like HP. TOA is more of a refresher for students unlike HP. The programe creates enthusiasm. Believes in education through radio to be for a shorter period”, says Bhimsen Karki, Chairman of Srinagar FM
The programme lacks direct two-way communications and immediate clarification, which loses the enthusiasm among students since the programme is recorded.
Editing skill by teachers is necessary to make sure that the contents are produced as decided by teachers. When working with the production team they sometime delete the important aspect of the content while editing.
Problem in understanding the technical language especially in mathematics
To be submitted at the time of final draft:
- Transcript of two programmes
Summary Profile and Research notes (including people met, contacts etc) – coming soon!