English Radio Lessons – What an Idea!

Indian television afficionados may have come across an advertisement of a mobile service provider depicting how a mobile phone could be used to spread education in remote areas. It got us interested and we wanted to see whether such an idea (no reference to the company!) was actually being implemented. After some not-so-intensive news searching, we came across an article by BBC India’s Amarnath Tewary which describes how the radio is being used in Bihar to teach English to school children.

The Bihar Education Project, in collaboration with the Education Development Center (a US-based organization), launched this innovative teaching idea in order to improve literacy of the state. Bihar currently has a literacy percentage of only 47%.

Amarnath Tewary reports:

The students are looking inquisitively at a radio set perched on a plastic chair in the middle of the classroom in the capital, Patna.
They are all waiting for a new English lesson to begin – on the radio. 

So, for half an hour, four days a week, millions of primary students in Bihar today learn English through this radio lesson.

The year-long interactive radio lessons are being broadcast by the four regional state-run All India Radio stations. The lessons cover seven million students attending 65,000 primary schools in all the 38 districts of the state.

And what does a student have to say about this?:

“It is very easy to learn English on radio. Every day we wait for this class. Even if the teacher is not in the class we learn and enjoy the programme,” a student, Sakshi Kumari, said. 

The state government has granted a 1000 rupees to every school to enable them to buy a radio. And the benefits of such initiatives in Bihar are told in this para:

Interestingly, backward and dirt-poor Bihar appears to be a trend setter here – a recent federal government report found that school students in the state are now faring better in English and mathematics than anywhere else in the country. 

The article is very well written and also gives you the perspective of the teachers in these schools. It is truly inspiring to see such initiatives being taken in the field of education, which is perhaps one of the most important areas requiring development in our country.
Last, but not the least, we couldn’t help but add the punch line – What an Idea!

Image courtesy: Prashant Ravi from BBC News

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