Thursday, March 10, 2011

Community Radio for Education, Information, Communication and Mobilization-Ms. Arpita Sharma

“Knowledge” and more broadly “Information” enables farmers to bring about improvement to their environment and agricultural activities as well as creates new income and employment opportunities. However, the new information highway has some potholes in it. Relevant information may exist but it may be inaccessible. High illiteracy rate and low level of schooling among disadvantaged groups, especially women, in many developing countries limit the ability and people to lift them out of poverty. Meeting the massive educational needs of the rural poor is especially difficult in many poverty stricken countries where disadvantages groups continue to be denied access to higher knowledge, skills and technology transfer. One of the main reasons for such snag is that we have simply failed to develop quality infrastructure, facilities and good teachers at the rural level. In order to empower disadvantaged groups as equal partner in development the limitation of formal and non formal education are now being challenged. New ways to achieve mass education that can be both efficient and effective are being sought. In this context, radio which is an efficient and effective telecommunication medium must be considered. This cheap, easily affordable single means of communication is more likely to address the massive needs.
Community Radio caters to the informational and entertainment needs of people. It has played an important role in creating awareness among the rural people. Community Radio is accessible even to the poor and the illiterate. The significance of this medium increases further in India, where a large population is living in villages. In developing countries like ours majority of the rural masses including women, farmers and rural youth remains uneducated.  The reasons identified are lack of awareness, social fetters for women and broadly earning activities as their primary and uppermost concern. The progress of a country depends on the progress and upliftment of the rural masses. There is a strong need to update the knowledge of rural masses in various sectors of agriculture, animal husbandry as well as in Home science. These can the successfully achieved by designing a training strategy of which “Radio” should be a key components. Although, radio as a medium of communication was used intensively in the past for transmitting agricultural information to the farmers, with the advent of television, radio was placed second due to faulty Government policy in this regards.  Despite a successful experiment Rural Radio Forum popularly known as Poona experiment, the radio as a medium for transforming agricultural information started loosing its importance, though it still has its far reaching ability. One may see many educational programmes sponsored by Government organizations UGC, IGNOU as well as private channels. However the efforts for rural audiences specially the farming communities still remains with the broadcasting stations at large which are ill equipped in terms of knowledge, innovativeness as well as staff.
Despite technological advancements, the farmers are still not in a position to have accessed to them. As a result, an alternative need should be found. In the present case, the alternative need should be found. In the present case, the alternative is not a new one, it is very much popular among the farmers i.e. the radio. Community Radio is personal and intimate channel of communication. Community Radio reaches almost everywhere. People can listen radio while doing other things. Time has come where we have to need rethink and look for different approaches to utilize this medium in order reach then masses and cater the needs. Community Radio has unique medium over television. It is flexible reaches large section of population, living in isolated community with in no time and is therefore, a practice alternative in rural area. Community Radio caters to the information, education and entertainment needs of rural area. Anna FM is India’s first campus ‘community’ radio, launched on 1 Feb 2004, which is run by Education and Multimedia Research Centre (EM²RC), and all programmes are produced by the students of Media Sciences at Anna University. Community Radio becomes necessary as Commercial and public stations do not represent the community, but Community radio reaches the needy masses with required information and it enjoys  renewed interest around the world, Huge penetration and access base (98% in India) and Cost effective. Community Listeners would mean people living in the Coverage Zone of the Community Radio Stations i.e. in the broadcasting service of the licensee and having interest in the content. Programme formats: There are so many issues related to agriculture and they will vary from region to region. All these issues can be discussed through different types of formats that are; Drama: It combines education and entertainment on a specific topic for example a case study of new way to cultivate crop. The duration of the programme can be fifteen to twenty minutes, Features: They are short programmes which approach everyday themes like health or nutrition, pest control or fertilization, in a creative and artistic way. The duration of the programme could be five to ten minutes, Interviews: These are community radio programmes that include a dialogue between a host and a guest expert. The expert could be anybody; a local farmer with specialised knowledge of traditional practices, or an agriculture scientist from the university, Panels and discussions: These are perhaps the most interesting of all the community radio programmes, and involve demonstrating different perspectives on an issue or question, For example organic versus inorganic farming, or traditional versus modern agricultural practices. Documentary: A documentary is an issue based programme that may or may not involve testimonies of people on a particular issue of public interest. It introduces the listener to an issue that is well researched and analysed before being broadcast. Editorial: An editorial is a broadcast on community radio that presents the opinion of the owner, manager, or the editorial team, and this gives an opportunity to highlight and analyze issues of a crucial import. This is the ‘Voice of people’, an expression of popular opinion. It is different from the editorial, in the sense that the recording is done outdoors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Arpita Sharma is Ph.D. Scholar in the Dept. of Agricultural Communication of G. B. Pant University at Pantnagar. She obtained her M.Sc. from the same University. Her research interests focus on media effects and media communication. She has published review papers and research papers in the Journal of Communication Studies, Communication Today and various other journals related to communication and rural development. She had got the Assistanceship during M.Sc. and Fellowship in Ph.D. She has presented papers in National and International seminars. Email- sharmaarpita35@gmail.com

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