Bihar Education Project Teaches English With Radio

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Educational radio has been taken to an entirely new level in India recently by an innovative new program. It is a collaboration between All India Radio and The Bihar Education Project (BEP), who together have been using radio to tech English language skills since November of 2007.

Via The Times of India:

The Bihar Education Project (BEP) has been doing something similar since last November. It has provided radio sets in 70,000-odd government schools across the state to reach out to around 67 lakh Class I and II children. The children are being taught English, otherwise introduced in Class V in the state, four days a week through All India Radio.

“The idea behind the interactive ‘English Is Fun ‘ radio programme is not only to increase the understanding of English in children but also to remove the inferiority complex in students of government schools because of their poor command of the language,” said BEP director Rajesh Bhushan.

I love seeing radio used this way. It brings to mind the post I did about Farm Radio International’s efforts to teach farming techniques in Africa over the radio. Practical, immediate, and useful. That usefulness was thrown into sharp relief last Monday when Bhushan along with Unicef and EDC officials unveiled the results of the first survey of results across 2,160 students across 38 districts. The figures are encouraging to say the least:

During the pre-test period, 42.7% of the students had below average reception of English while another 47.9% had average comprehension of the language. Only 9.4% of the students had good reception of English. Post-programme, these figures have changed drastically to 8.67%, 72.6% and 18.8% respectively.

Speaking English also improved. During the pre-test period, 84.9% of the children were below average while another 13.7% were average in speaking English. Only 1.4% of the children had good speaking ability. Post-programme, the figures have changed to 68.7%, 39.9% and 2.4% respectively.

Now that is what I call results! An almost doubling of the number of kids with good English skills. Educational programming is hardly a new concept, but coupled with the distribution of radios into the classroom it is reaching not only a new audience, but also new heights of effectiveness.

This shows once again the native reach of broadcast radio. The airwaves extend everywhere, as long as a receiver is available the connection is made. That is what really strikes me about the Bihar Education Project. It is not only a radio program that is being utilized, but the distribution of receivers to a broad base of users that can directly benefit from them.

In an age when radio receivers cost almost nothing, this is a great way to reach out!

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