|© UNICEF Ghana/2009/Obeng-Kyereh|
|‘Curious Minds’ participant Edith Asamani leads an on-air discussion at the radio studio in Accra, Ghana.|
NEW YORK, USA, 4 March 2009 – A group of 20 youths packed together in a small radio studio, crowded over a few microphones, are speaking with great intensity. They laugh often and sometimes talk over each other.
The young people are live on air, discussing educational reform and AIDS education – just two of the many social topics that are covered on ‘Curious Minds’, a talk radio programme of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.
‘Curious Minds’ has over 60 youth members who participate in all levels of production on the show.
Decisions made by consensus
When the show first began in 1996, it was pre-recorded with youth in the studio and was largely adult-directed, according to producer and programme coordinator Kingsley Obeng-Kyereh. But Mr. Obeng-Kyereh saw the talent of the young radio commentators and felt they needed to take ownership of the programme.
The show went live in 2001, which not only allowed for a shorter production time but also garnered an active audience of listeners, both children and adults, who could call in and join the discussion.
Mr. Obeng-Kyereh also began a consensus-building process for production. The young members meet three times a week to look at current events, decide on a theme and discuss the best approach to handling the topic.
In addition to putting together the show every week, the youth members participate in advocacy projects on children’s rights issues, and even present short papers on these issues at conferences.
Honest and open exchanges
The impact of ‘Curious Minds’ goes beyond the individuals in the studio. Because radio is such an important medium throughout Ghana, reaching over 5 million listeners, ‘Curious Minds’ is changing the way children and adults think about each other and communicate with each other.
|© UNICEF Ghana/2009/Obeng-Kyereh|
|Youths from the ‘Curious Minds’ radio programme in Ghana proudly display their International Children’s Day of Broadcasting Award.|
Mr. Obeng-Kyereh recounts an episode during a recent show in which the youths were having a heated discussion about disrespectful children and parental responsibility. A 14-year-old listener called in to the show to say that his mother had been sending him to do things he didn’t like, and that he wanted to advise parents that there were things that children shouldn’t be asked to do.
Seven minutes later, an adult called saying that she was the teenage caller’s mother.
Mother and son, unbeknownst to each other, were listening to the program in different locations, but were able to have a thoughtful and honest discussion with each other live on air, facilitated by the perspectives and information offered by ‘Curious Minds’.
Work left to do
Based in the capital city Accra, ‘Curious Minds’ currently produces two shows a week, one in English and one in Ga, the local language. In 2003 and 2004, with the support of Save the Children, they opened up more branches to cover all the regions of Ghana.
‘Curious Minds’ also works in collaboration with UNICEF, the Department of Children in Ghana, the Ghana Coalition on the Rights of the Child and the International Labour Organization’s Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour. In southern Ghana, it is working with PLAN International, training young people to run a programme called ‘Yen Adwen’ (‘Our Opinion’).
Despite all of its success, says Mr. Obeng-Kyereh, ‘Curious Minds’ still has a lot of work left to do to effect wider social change.
“There is still a large segment of the population that believes that young people should be silent, that they have nothing to contribute. The young people in ‘Curious Minds’ are not just parroting issues. They have knowledge and information, and speak from an informed perspective,” he said. “Ghanaians have a long way to go to really recognize the potential and the contributions of young people.”
International Children’s Day of Broadcasting
2010 ICDB Awards celebrate child rights
(external link, opens in a new window)