CAR

Countering school closures with radio education in the Central African Republic

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With funding from Education Cannot Wait, Jesuit Refugee Service is expanding remote learning opportunities for children impacted by the COVID-19 crisis

Stories from the Field

Special Contribution by Jesuit Refugee Service (Original Story)

While all the educational facilities in the Central African Republic (CAR) have closed their doors due to the COVID-19 outbreak, students and teachers have found a new source for learning: the airwaves.

To keep children from falling further behind in the pandemic, the Jesuit Refugee Service is producing a weekday radio education program known as *L'École à la Radio *(The School on the Radio). Children have been tuning into the broadcast since June every day from 4:30 to 5pm to hear radio lessons broadcast by the Lego ti la Ouaka community radio in Bambari, where JRS is supporting internally displaced persons and local communities with funding from the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, Education Cannot Wait (ECW).

The project is reaching preschool and primary students who have not been able to go back to class since March 2020. Before the pandemic, access to quality education was already a challenge for many children affected by conflict, recruitment by armed groups or forced displacement in CAR. Unable to access the safety, hope and protection of a quality learning environment, their education and future are at risk.

To address the unique social and emotional challenges these children face, L'École à la Radio offers important learning and psychosocial supports for children who have been displaced by war and violence. Over 2980 people (children and parents) now listen to the radio broadcast, which is heard within a radius of at least 50 km around Bambari.

Radio lessons are recorded with the participation of 10 children (5 girls and 5 boys) in the classroom, respecting the adequate prevention measures against COVID-19. This hybrid approach empowers children and presents an innovative way to extend in-class lessons to students staying home.

“Since I discovered L’École à la Radio, I always lend my radio to my children and other kids in the village from 4:30 to 5 pm, so that they can learn with the radio classes,” says Christian Marago.

Christian is a father of a four and an eight year old, and lives in Madomale village, located 37 km away from Bambari.

L’École à la Radio addresses them directly, especially since children of their ages are the ones talking and doing the show,” he adds.

After contacting Lego ti la Ouaka radio and expressing his enthusiasm for the program, Christian was invited to become one of the sixteen JRS Radio Listening Focal Points who operate within the communities. They accompany the children during the radio emission and help JRS monitoring the development and impact of the program.

For Christian, the program really helps the students to continue learning, at the same time helping parents with the knowledge and tools they need to supervise their children’s learning progress.

“The language [used in the program] is suitable for children and the subjects are adapted to the context of the coronavirus pandemic,” says Christian. “At the same time, they learn about family, good manners, nature and animals… Also, about the existence of the coronavirus and how to protect themselves and the whole community.”

“From my side, I think that L’École à la Radio is one of the best programs broadcast by Lego ti la Ouaka radio in these times,” Christian says.

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Education Cannot Wait’s ‘Stories from the Field’ series features the voices of our implementing partners, children, youth and the communities we support. These stories have only been lightly edited to reflect the authentic voice of these frontlines partners on the ground. The views expressed in the Stories from the Field series do not necessarily reflect those of Education Cannot Wait, our Secretariat, donors or UN Member States.