By Sheila Offiong
Abuja – An NGO, South Sahara Social Development Organisation (SSDO), has organised a maiden Radio School Dissemination Workshop to promote effective teaching and learning for young people.
The Executive Director of SSDO, Mrs Nkedu Igwe, told Journalists on Thursday in Abuja that the workshop aimed to share findings on implementation of the Radio School Projects in Adamawa and Enugu States.
The workshop was organised by SSDO, in partnership with Centre for Public Education for Development in Nigeria (CEPAD) and the MacArthur Foundation.
She defined the Radio School Project as an on-air programme that employs the academic curriculum to help enhance learning among children.
“The Radio School Programme is an in-school programme aired around 11a.m. on Radio Nigeria Enugu and at about 12.30p.m. on Gotel Radio, Adamawa.
“While in school, the students have a central radio to listen to the programme and questions from the programme are directed to the class teacher for further clarification.
“Questions outside the school hours or by students who are not in school are directed to radio teachers that can be reached via phone numbers on a toll free line,” Igwe said.
The Director explained that the choice of Adamawa as one of the two pilot states was informed by the need to make learning accessible to students in the insurgency-ravaged North east.
Enugu was selected as the second pilot state to address the inadequacy of teachers in remote schools in the South east.
She said that although the programme was still at the beginning stage, efforts would be put in place to enable more children benefit from the project.
“When we started, we had just 17 pilot schools, but the Government of Adamawa expressed concern over the number of children that were out of school; so the schools were increased to 150.”
Similarly in Enugu, we decided to start with the rural communities, but the government insisted that all schools must benefit from the programme, so we involved 292 schools.
In an interview with News Agency of Nigeria, Dr ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye, a member of the Board of SSDO, decried the lack of interface between teachers and students.
According to her, this hinders growth of the programme.
“The radio is not visual, so it is difficult for children to see the teacher; there is no feedback for children to ask questions because the programme is not live.
“We’ve tried to tackle the feedback issue associated with radio teachers who the children call-on a toll-free line to ask questions,” Aniagolu-Okoye said.
For her part, Mrs Samirah Umah, Principal, Government Day Secondary School in Vunoklang community of Adamawa, stressed that the impact of the radio school programme could not be over emphasised.
She revealed that during the period of insurgency in the state some displaced students who came to her school stood by the classroom windows to listen to the radio programme.
“Now that the programme has stopped, the underprivileged students, who have no access to formal school system, come to harass my students.
“So, I look forward to the continuity of the radio school programme to rescue us from the incessant harassment,” Umah said.
Similarly, Mrs Nkechi Ngwu, Liaison Officer of Enugu Post Primary School Management Board and SSDO said the radio school programme had helped to improve the ability of students to learn.
Ngwu said: “Our students have improved tremendously in learning; their listening ability has improved because the children are eager to listen to the radio programme.
“Unlike before when students roamed about during classes, since the inception of the radio programme, they now listen to educational programmes with keen interest.
“A beneficiary of the programme, Joy Daniel, told NAN that it had significantly impacted positively on her academic performance.
Another beneficiary, Rachael Igwebuike, urged Federal and State Governments to endeavour to employ well-trained teachers and to fund the radio school programme to ensure continuity and achievement of desired goals.