Radio Broadcasts Promote Lifelong Learning for Girls

Pacia is a youth speaker for local radio in Laos.

A Newfound Interest

Pacia, a 17-year-old member of the H’Mong minority ethnic community in Laos, has not let her parents’ making her drop out of school stop her from learning. On the contrary, she has attended several Plan sponsored training sessions for youth radio announcers. She continues to learn every time she interviews a community member with an issue to include in her radio program.

Pacia is a part of a children’s group in the Paktha District, and acquired the knowledge and technical skills she needs to run local radio programs. It is a part of a pilot project Plan has run in coordination with the Provincial Department of Information, Culture, and Tourism.

More than half of the trainees have been girls. They’re eager to become good announcers and engage in personal development. In fact, Vixien Chanhthamaly, Plan Laos’ child rights and child participation program assistant noted, “We see the potential of the children in the village, especially girls. With their positive attitude, they have done a really good job, and I can say that they are fast learners.”

Personal and Communal Benefits

The project benefited far more people than just the trainees, though each trainee, as Pacia explains, grew a tremendous amount: “I now feel confident since I participated in the training. I acquired new skills ranging from news and script writing to speech, and interview techniques. I know what is happening around my community and I love to share that information with other villagers. Broadcasting is fun.” In fact, Pacia enjoys her role hosting programs so much that she wants to make it her profession. When she holds a microphone, her natural shyness is gone and she is transformed into a bold, articulate speaker.

Pacia is also pleased to be able to serve her community by educating listeners: “Most people in the village do not know how to read or write, so the easiest and the most effective way of communicating with them is through local radio. I feel happy when I am broadcasting a program as I want to support my community. Two times a week, Cheameng and I work together as a team to develop a program which offers different materials, including music, local news, and information on topics like child rights and child participation and community hygiene.”

Scope to Grow

In Houay Lum Paan, where Pacia lives, the local radio reaches just 69 houses with 320 members, but Chanhthamaly sees the possibility of expanding the pilot areas to the nearby villages.

He also hopes to see the content of the programs expand. Already programs are used to conduct local business, making announcements, but there is a demand for more creative and child-centered related issues. A recent survey conducted by Plan and local authorities revealed that listeners would like to hear more storytelling and spot radio as well as more child-appropriate music. There is also a call to use simpler language so that children will understand easily and to provide more information on Plan’s messages.

Chanhthamaly also shared his vision of sustainability: “As a part of our long-term plan, we are hoping that children and village members will continue this activity on their own even without support from Plan. The idea is to create a sense of ownership and to encourage people to see the benefits of having local radio programs in which their children can express their ideas.”

With talented and devoted announcers like Pacia, the road to a sustainable future is half traveled.