In the afternoon English class, the teacher coaxes her adult student: “What is your name?”
The student shyly responds in a whisper. Her classmates knowingly chuckle. It is clearly difficult to take on a new language as an adult, but thousands are doing so in Juba, South Sudan.
By the end of the class, the teacher has the students speaking boldly and laughing at jokes. Most of these adult learners have missed a formal education and are learning via EDC’s Radio-Based Education for All (RABEA) program. It is part of a broader interactive radio program in South Sudan that is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and run by EDC.
The adult learner classroom is directed by a live broadcast to the classroom, which includes tips and prompts for the teacher. It is listened to in 78 centers and reaches 7,990 learners. The associated program for young learners, Learning Village, reaches 83,448 listeners. Program officials report that a listener survey revealed that more than 350,000 additional listeners tune in every day.
Many Sudanese adults have known little else but war and disruption, and were unable to attend schools in their youth. The South Sudanese education ministry is “passionate about the need for alternative education,” says Richard Trewby, who oversees the program for EDC. That sentiment has rubbed off in the town of Juba, where a dozen youngsters gather at the open-air windows to hear the adult lesson.
Originally published on October 18, 2010