People are singing new songs in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Heard first on the radio and echoed in schoolyards, fields and markets, these songs indicate renewed hope and interest in education for a region that has been severely affected by years of war and instability.
For the third time in as many years, the Bush administration has visited an EDC program overseas. In June, during her multi-nation trip to Africa, First Lady Laura Bush visited two EDC projects, meeting with students and teachers who use EDC radio programs for basic education, life skills, HIV/AIDS prevention, and teacher training. Mrs. Bush, accompanied by her daughter, Jenna, visited schools in Zambia and Mali that use the EDC-created programs. The work is funded by USAID through President Bush’s Africa Education Initiative.
During a five-day visit to Africa, First Lady Laura Bush met with students who are listening to radio to learn basic education, life skills, and HIV/AIDS prevention. For millions of children across Africa who don’t have access to traditional schooling and for teachers who do not have access to adequate training, the radio programs reach them in community centers, their homes, and in school settings. Mrs. Bush, accompanied by her daughter, Jenna, visited schools in Zambia and Mali that use the participatory programs, created for each country by Education Development Center, Inc.
Wisdom “Laddo” Mulefu has become something of a hero at EDC. Depending on who you talk to, he’s the boy who traveled countless miles just to find a school that would enroll him … the boy who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer … the boy whose wholesale love of education blossomed before our very eyes.
Kit Yasín directs projects in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Horn of Africa. Her work in interactive radio instruction, educational songwriting, and girls’ education has brought her to Haiti, Ethiopia, Colombia, Egypt, Somalia, Gambia, Grenada, and Djibouti. She works in EDC’s International Education Systems
Division in Washington, D.C.
Many children living on the islands of Zanzibar do not benefit from schooling. There are several reasons: extreme poverty, cultural beliefs that limit girls’ participation, distance from school, and lack of early learning experiences that prepare children to succeed are some of the most important.
EDC is introducing interactive radio instruction to the island of Zanzibar in an effort to reach out to children who have been unable to attend school because of poverty, disability, or distance from school. Using games, songs, and stories broadcast over simple wind-up radios, the project will pilot test its radio lessons in 60 primary classrooms enabling 2,700 children to learn math, Kiswahili, and life skills.
Shaban Ladeu has taught at Haddow Primary School in Maridi, Western Equatoria, since 2001. A teacher since 1981, Shaban is a dedicated educator; until the Government of Southern Sudan began paying teachers’ salaries this year, Shaban worked without remuneration, only occasionally receiving a small allowance culled from students’ tuition fees. The 80 students in his first grade class range in age from 6 to 12, and most began their formal education only this year.
Najmo is an eight-year-old girl who lives with her parents in the Hodan district in Mogadishu. She is in first grade at Al Imra School. Surrounded by dangerous mortar fire and lawlessness, Najmo’s parents have been very worried about the family’s safety.
Child laborers in Tanzania who participated in EDC’s radio-based education program, Mambo Elimu, performed as well as students in the state-run public school system on recent standard national exams. The positive scores in grade four have convinced the Tanzanian government to take up the program now that initial funding from the U.S. Department of Labor has ended.
In response to the in-service training needs of Mali’s primary education teachers, USAID/MALI began support of the “Teacher Training via Radio” program, or “FIER” (Formation Interactive des Enseignants par la Radio) in 2004 in seven regions.
Child laborers in Tanzania who participated in the non-formal, radio-based education program, Mambo Elimu, performed as well as students in the state-run public school system, according to recent exam scores from districts where Mambo Elimu was being piloted.
Struggling to emerge from decades of civil war, the people of Sudan are working to rebuild their society. With funding from USAID, EDC’s International Development Division (IDD) has developed Sudan Radio Service (SRS), the first independent and unbiased radio service to reach across the country with accurate news and information.
EDC has been selected by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as a lead organization to implement the Assistance to Basic Education (ABE/BE) initiative, USAID’s new Indefinite Quantity Contract mechanism to support quality basic education around the world.
The Indian state government of Chhattisgarh has expanded an EDC-developed interactive radio instruction initiative (IRI) to reach approximately one million children. The program is part of a two-state radio initiative that involves 7 million children in more than 80,000 schools.
Academy-award winning actor Tom Hanks has donated $50,000 to the Freeplay Foundation. The foundation will use the donation to purchase 1,000 Lifeline radios for a primary school distance education program in Tanzania developed by EDC’s International Education Systems Division.
Through the Zambia Community Radio Project, EDC is partnering with such radio stations and other local non-governmental and community-based development organizations to create a series of village-based radio programs entitled Our Village.
By 2015 and in accordance with Education for All (EFA), the Government of Honduras seeks to have 50 percent of its pre-school age population in school. Currently, less than a third of preschool age children are able to attend pre-primary institutions, most of which were private.
While HIV/AIDS and hunger have taken a huge toll on teachers, students, and families in Zambia, EDC is supporting a growing network of community learning centers that bring education to areas without formal schools. The 300-plus centers are run by unpaid mentors using lessons delivered via radio to groups of young people gathered in homes, backyards, churches, or cement-block classrooms.
From the dry, wind-burned Andean villages where the altitude thins the air and turns the land to dust to the lush Amazon jungle regions of Bolivia, the educational story is often the same: the opportunities for learning are reduced by isolation and the demands of daily life. Thirty-eight percent of children under five suffer from malnutrition, which is associated with four out of five deaths in young children.