UNICEF's Communication Initiative for Young People in Nepal
An initiative combining education and information with entertainment has been conceived out of a Knowledge, Attitude, Practice and Skills Survey conducted in 2000, among 1,4000 Nepalese adolescents aged 12 to 18 years. The findings showed a compelling need to build up the young Nepalese' knowledge and confidence to tackle daily pressures, including those from peers and parents, and habits that put their health and survival at risk. UNICEF Nepal has created 3 interlinked ways to reach young people: edutainment through radio and television; communication materials; and interpersonal discussions.
"Chatting with My Best Friend"
"Chatting with My Best Friend" ("Sathi Sanga Maka Kura") is the first Nepali radio programme produced for young people in Nepal. It is designed to interact with teenagers as another peer who speaks their mind without moral judgement, to help break the silence surrounding physiological and emotional issues such as sex, love, relationships, peer pressure and conflict with parents. A group of young producers aged 19 to 27 have been selected to design chat topics, and create stories modelled on real life situations, to stimulate reflections, and inspire positive actions. Each one-hour episode combines music, drama and chat between a young female and male host. The programme is currently broadcast nationwide every Saturday on Radio Nepal. It has generated enthusiastic response from teenagers; the young hosts receive between 200 and 500 letters per week from listeners as far away as Sikkim, India, and the remote districts of Humla, Jumla and Accham.
"Catmandu" is Nepal's first TV programme acted and directed by young people for young people. Broadcast by Nepal Television every Saturday evening, the drama series improvises stories created in "Chatting with My Best Friend" and draws inspiration from the hundreds of letters its listeners send in each week. The "Catmandu" plot is created around the concept of life skills by putting protagonists through emotional conflicts, tough choices, setbacks and situations that demand empathy, creative and critical thinking, problem solving and other skills.
Supplementary Communication Materials
Complementing the radio and TV programmes are a number of reading materials to stimulate interpersonal discussions on life skills. The first life skills guide, written in English, has been translated and adapted into 8 booklets in Nepali, along with 7 photo-novellas, a popular form of reading among teenagers. Each topic consists of exercises to help teenagers better understand themselves and learn how to tackle daily situations by using one or a combination of skills.
Read an interview with Cai Cai, UNICEF Nepal's Life Skills and HIV/AIDS Consultant, to learn more about strategies and lessons from this popular program.