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Community radio mobilises girls to go to school

© UNICEF/MOZA-02662/Roger Lemoyne
Children participate in the production and presentation of their own radio programmes on Erive Community Radio in Maganja da Costa district, province of Zambezia.

Zambézia Province, March 2008 – The Maganja da Costa District, in Zambézia Province, will never be the same again.

For almost a year, many families have been awakened at daybreak by the pleasant voice of the young announcers at Erive Community Radio, the district’s new radio station. Members of the community can still hardly believe that radio has arrived in their town and how much it has revolutionised their lives.
 
Since the radio station began broadcasting, the communities throughout the district have seen a gradual change in people’s behaviour, mainly in the lives of girls.  A theme frequently discussed in the programmes and debates, transmitted almost every day, is getting girls to go to school.

“In our radio programmes we discuss many children’s rights issues, such as our right to health, to protection against violence and abuse, and to education,” says 14-year old Regina João Marenço. “We have been given a lot of prominence to promote girls’ education, and the result is that we see an increasing number of girls going to school,” she says with a proud smile.

The number of girls enrolled in Maganja da Costa’s primary schools increased from 18,335 in 2006 to 23,248 in 2007. Regina, who’s in grade four, is a role model for other girls her age. She presents the children’s programme and is also the deputy head of the production group that makes these programmes. The group comprises of 10 children, half of whom are girls.

The community radio transmits both in Portuguese, the official language of the country, and in Lómuè and Nharinga – two local languages – so that no one is excluded.

© UNICEF Mozambique/ Thierry Delvigne-Jean
An increased number of girls are enrolling in primary schools in Maganja da Costa district in response to the social mobilisation activities promoted by the Child-Friendly Schools initiative.

In addition to the children’s programme, there are many other programmes broadcast for adolescents and youth, women, and the community in general. The programmes are informative, recreational and there are also live discussions, offering a voice to members of the community on issues that concern them. 

Some of the issues covered include good hygiene and sanitation practices; sexual and reproductive health; HIV prevention and the stigma facing people affected by HIV and AIDS and domestic violence.  Children’s rights are also on the agenda, such as the right to quality education. 

The Erive Community Radio was built in Maganja da Costa as part of the Child-Friendly Schools initiative, with UNICEF’s support and in partnership with Mozambique’s Social Communication Institute. The radio has played a fundamental role in creating more opportunities to ensure all members of the community are informed and feel increasingly involved in the implementation of the initiative. 

“Today you often see people in the district walking around with small portable radios so they can tune into the community radio wherever they are,” says Carlota Nhaca, Coordinator of the Erive Community Radio and Producer of its children’s programme. “The community members participate actively in the interviews, the discussions and the conception of radio programmes. After all, the radio belongs to the community,” she adds.

To ensure that everybody has an opportunity to listen and participate, a group leaves the studio regularly and goes to the schools and surrounding communities with a portable radio receiver. As soon as they arrive a crowd of children and adults gather immediately to sit around the small receiver and listen attentively. When the programme ends, a heated discussion begins with everybody present, about the theme they have just been listening to. 

“Collective listening aims to reach those who don’t have a radio at home, enabling them to listen to our programmes too,” explains Carlota Nhaca.

The community radio complements other social mobilisation initiatives carried out in the scope of the Child-Friendly Schools initiative, such as school theatre groups and mobile multimedia units. The objective is to ensure that members of the communities understand the importance of sending their children to school – particularly those who are a disadvantaged, such as girls and children who have become orphans and vulnerable.

The Child-Friendly Schools initiative started in Maganja da Costa District in 2006 with UNICEF and partners’ support.  By 2009, it will cover all schools of seven districts in seven provinces. 

 

 
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