|© UNICEF/NEP00959/ Bogati|
|The team of young producers from the award-winning ‘Saathi Sanga Manka Koora’ radio programme of Equal Access Nepal.|
By Rupa Joshi and John Brittain
KATHMANDU, Nepal, 23 September 2008 – ‘Saathi Sanga Manka Koora’ (Chatting with My Best Friend), a radio programme produced by a team of young professionals from the non-governmental organization Equal Access Nepal, has won the 2008 International Children's Day for Broadcasting (ICDB) regional award for South Asia.
Targeted at teenagers and young adults, the ‘edutainment’ programme was initiated by UNICEF in 2001 in Nepal and is now being broadcast every week over the national radio network and 45 other local FM stations with UNICEF and USAID support.
Listenership has grown enormously in the past seven years. Every week, about 6.5 million young people from Nepal and beyond tune in to listen to the hour-long programme of songs, drama and youthful banter, with a contemporary approach to serious issues such as HIV/AIDS.
‘The world we want’
The programme has liberated children and adolescents too shy to talk about such topics. It has also provided a forum for an exchange of information and knowledge among young people on issues that really interest them.
|© UNICEF/NEP00952/ Bogati|
|Sangita Budhathoki, one of the youth producers of 'Saathi Sanga Manka Kura', with some of the thousands of letters sent each week by Listeners' Club members.|
"Our winning entry was the programme that we aired in early December 2007," says co-host Sangita Budathoki. "The one-hour programme with its usual segments of chat, drama, songs, letters and information revolved around the ICDB theme of ‘The world we want’. The message ... was that young people can play a big role in ensuring that children get the world they wanted and deserved.”
Guest-starring Orlando Bloom
The drama featured Hollywood star Orlando Bloom, who was then on a trip to see UNICEF's programmes in Nepal.
"The children wrote a play about their problems, and gave Orlando a role to give a tip to the children on how things could be solved if everyone worked together," said Sangita. "Orlando was also involved in a discussion programme with the children where he asked them what they envisioned for themselves in the future. The answers given by the boys and girls formed the bulk of the ICDB special programme."
This is not the first taste of international recognition for Equal Access and Saathi Sanga Manka Koora. In November 2007, the programme was also honoured with the Global Junior Challenge Award by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the Presidential Palace in Rome.
"Studies have repeatedly shown that 'Saathi Sanga Manka Koora' is the most popular radio programme for young people in the country today," says Country Director for Equal Access Nepal Nirmal Rijal. "What started as a programme to equip young people with life skills for adopting safe behaviour has expanded and grown to deal with a whole spectrum of issues that concern Nepali adolescents and youth."
'Saathi Sanga Manka Koora' has spawned more than 1,200 Listener Clubs across the country, started by young people who felt more comfortable listening to the direct and frank discussions with their peers. Besides listening to the programme, club members discuss the issues raised in the programmes, and even take collective actions to resolve problems in their communities.
The show is now being supplemented with regional and national publications published in coordination with the Listener Club network.
In response to the needs of the listeners, 'Saathi Sanga Manka Koora' has also launched a half-hour weekly programmek, ‘Kaamka Koora’ (Talking About Work), which is dedicated to building the skills of young people to ensure better opportunities for gainful employment.
International Children’s Day of Broadcasting
2010 ICDB Awards celebrate child rights
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