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Improving education in Madagascar by distance education programmes

ANTANANARIVO, 28 September 2007 - The very first of a series of four distance education radio programmes, by the Ministry of Education, is being aired this week. 

Education is a major issue, in Madagascar, where two thirds of the population live in severe poverty.  Many children, particularly, in rural and remote areas are out of school. To improve this situation, especially for those living in the most remote and vulnerable zones, the Ministry of Education has been working, since 2005, to develop Distance Education Programmes.

Pre-tests show positive results, with both in-school and out-of-school children were glued to the radio.

“It’s very interesting! Babakoto (lemur) is so funny, and the kids in the programme are just like us!” said Nirina, an eight-year old girl.

“Our students love the songs, quizzes and stories. The programmes will really help the children learn better,” her teacher said.

The main audience for the programmes are children aged between five and nine years. The 15 minute programmes will be broadcast four times. It is hoped that  the programmes will encourage, out-of-school children into the classrooms. During re-broadcasting on Saturday afternoons, parents can listen with children.  A special focus is placed on developing life skills, such as self-esteem, getting along with others, communication, gender equality, assessing risks, decision making and protecting the environment. 

“Children learn most when they are having fun. I am convinced that these radio programmes will contribute towards access to, and quality of, education in Madagascar,” says UNICEF Representative Bruno Maes.  

UNICEF has supported the development of a series for children entitled “O!O”. O!O is an edutainment-type programme, aimed at strengthening children’s literacy, mathematics and life skills through a fun and entertaining approach. Amusing and lovable characters such as lemurs and birds are the main feature of the programmes. They were developed to become children’s “friends”, to attract their attention, feed their imagination, and to help foster a love for learning.  

Madagascar’s Ministry of Education has obtained 21,200 wind-up radios for all public primary schools.  Many rural areas lack electricity, so these radios can even be used in the most hard-to-reach schools.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Manuela Varrasso, Communication Officer, UNICEF Madagascar: Mobile:+261 32 05 426 15; Email: mvarrasso@unicef.org




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