While all educational facilities in the Central African Republic (CAR) closed their doors due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the classroom found another place: the airwaves. Since mid-June 2020, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), has been producing the educational program L’École à la Radio (The School on the Radio) on weekdays from 4.30 to 5.00 p.m. Supported by Education Cannot Wait, the radio lessons are broadcast by the Lego ti la Ouaka community radio in Bambari – one of the areas where JRS operates with internally displaced persons and local communities.
The project is aimed to 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. Now, unable to attend school, their education and future are at risk. Therefore, L’École à la Radio offers an important learning support and psychosocial accompaniment. So far, the program is regularly listened by over 2980 people (children and parents) 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.
Christian is a father of children aged from 4 to 8 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 about the program, Christian Marango also became 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 children to continue learning, and their parents to be able to supervise the learning progress. “The language [used in the program] is suitable for children and the subjects are adapted to the context of the coronavirus pandemic,” he said, “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,” Marago says.