Posted April 1999
In terms of sheer numbers, Asians represent the largest mass media consumers in the world. In this context, this report explores how mass media can be used to meet the enormous educational challenges facing Asia. It underlines the importance for mass media to create conditions and mechanisms whereby people have genuine access to media. More specifically, it explains how mass media, especially radio, can be used as a creative, practical and cost-efficient vehicle to bring education within reach of the rural poor, and to simultaneously promote the empowerment of women and strengthen community development.
The successful and innovative experience of the Bayanihan Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) in the municipality of Infanta, in Quezon Province in the Philippines is documented through a case study that describes the BBC's innovative community-based radio broadcasting model which has been effectively used to promote sustainable agriculture.
The case study defines community-based radio (CBR) broadcasting for distance education is defined as the planned and systematic use of electronic technology as a medium for projecting to a mass audience a mixed programme format and techniques in order to: i) facilitate the enhancement of mass learning; ii) provide a process of information dissemination; iii) establish a foundation for decision-making and value-formation; and iv) initiate behavioural transformation for social mobilisation. In addition, it illustrates how radio school goes beyond mere informational or prescriptive broadcasting to achieve specific pedagogical objectives through the systematic improvement of knowledge, consciousness and skills.
The BBC's experience with participatory community broadcasting in the Philippines enables a number of basic principles to be identified regarding community-based radio. These principles stress the necessity to: i) start where the people are; ii) ensure maximum participation of the people being served; iii) be sensitive to local contextual and cultural characteristics; iv) encourage creativity among the participants; and v) base programmes on real issues which are important locally. These principles provide useful guidelines for the design and implementation of similar CBR distance learning systems elsewhere.
The case study further demonstrates how community-based radio broadcasting should be for the people and, at the same time, of the people. The on-the-air school in Infanta illustrates how a two-way dialogue between rural dwellers and technical experts can be achieved, using a group learning approach, facilitators, linkage development, print media and other creative means to facilitate the sharing of experiences, problems and concerns through feedback and assignments, etc.
Based on the BBC's experience with an on-the-air school in the Philippines, the study develops a framework for a community-based radio distance learning system (CBR-DLS) which can serve as a helpful guide to assist with the planning and implementation of radio based distance learning programmes elsewhere. This framework discusses the fundamental importance of, and relationship between, the four main elements to be considered and integrated in community broadcasting. These four elements are: content; context; format; and process. Additionally, it identifies seven curricular considerations for preparing a CBR school. This seven point check-list discusses why a CBR school curriculum should: i) be needs-based; ii) cover practical behavioural objectives; iii) have economic or utilitarian significance; iv) consider resource availability; v) be research and experience based; vi) foster a holistic integration of subject matter; and vii) diffuse clear messages and concrete examples.