Radio Education Program for Lake Chad
Within the Lake Chad basin of Africa, there is a crisis occurring. This crisis includes the increasing rates of famine, floods and militia groups such as Boko Haram which threaten the lives of individuals across Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria. This situation has displaced 1.3 million children and has made it difficult for students to access schools. However, a new program initiated by UNICEF and Education in Emergencies is providing a radio education program for Lake Chad that will give over 200,000 children potential access to education.

Conflict in Lake Chad has been occurring since 2009, with Boko Haram leading attacks against civilians and using violence to ban schooling. In the past eight years, Boko Haram has closed over 1,200 schools and has murdered over 600 teachers, as well as forcing 19,000 educators to flee. With many schools destroyed and more facing threats, children have no way to safely access education.

The occupancy of Boko Haram, although the primary threat to students, is not the only challenge when it comes to accessing schools. Children also encounter difficulty in mobility due to the rainy season, which causes flooding. This threat is all in combination with overarching threats of famine and water-borne diseases. These factors work together to make achieving an education almost impossible.

The UNICEF-designed radio education program for Lake Chad is an essential service that will educate children in the most rural areas of the country. This innovative program will feature 144 lessons on literacy, numeracy and other critical information. These lessons will be broadcast in French as well as in the local languages of Kanouri, Fulfulde and Hausa. This tool will reach children that have no other way to access schooling.

A significant aspect of this program is that it will be accredited by the governments of Cameroon and Niger. This point means the children using this program will not fall behind in their schooling and may have the potential to receive a certificate validating their success.

The radio education program for Lake Chad will also be bringing communities together, as UNICEF will be encouraging radio listening groups to help children get the most out of each broadcast. This measure will also ensure that adults will allow children to use existing radios and help with guided listening.

Despite the circumstances that currently prevent children from attending school, humanitarian organizations continue to find a way to keep these students learning. This radio education program will provide quality lessons to children that may have otherwise been denied an education entirely, ensuring that education will remain a priority for even the most vulnerable populations.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Google

The need for developing education in Malawi is continual. For example, in 2010, around 10 percent of primary aged children were not in school, and the primary school repetition rate reported in at 24 percent for boys and 29 percent for girls.

Girls in Malawi are exceptionally more vulnerable to a lack of education than boys. In fact, 32 percent of girls aged 14 to 17 are not in school compared to 23 percent of boys this age. Additionally, while 72 percent of boys 15 and older are literate, only 51 percent of women in this age group can read and write.

Part of this gap is caused by the high child marriage rate in Malawi, which is 11th highest in the world. UNICEF reports that approximately 50 percent of Malawian girls marry before they turn 18. Fortunately, this year the Malawian government moved to make marriage legal only after a woman is 18 years old.

Marshall Dyson, founder of the Girl Child Education Movement, is one of many Malawians who recognizes the need for resolution of the educational gender disparity. Dyson’s idea incorporated broadcasting an open discussion of child marriage and girls’ education over the radio. Both men and women of a variety of ages and backgrounds participated in the talk.

The discussion about girls’ education in Malawi broadcasted over Radio Islam, the only Islamic radio station in Malawi. Dyson strategically chose this platform since Muslims rested at risk of discrimination.

Dyson got his start in radio via an internship with Kumakomo Community Radio Station in Zimbabwe. There he served as the content manager of 12 volunteers.

The impact of this position is especially significant, considering that radio acts as the main source of news for most Malawians. According to USAID, the two-hour broadcast “was a collaboration across the YALI and Mandela Washington Fellows networks, and with Regional Leadership Center participants — young leaders between 18 and 35 enrolled in USAID-supported leadership training programs in sub-Saharan Africa.” Around three million people tuned in.

USAID states that “the Muslim Association of Malawi, who attended the event, agreed to open new offices in rural areas where communities can access up-to-date information about education and scholarship opportunities for girls.”

Education in Malawi still has much room for improvement, and humanitarians like Marshall Dyson act as major catalysts in that process. Through work such as his, Malawi is destined to achieve higher standards of education than ever before.

Emma Tennyson

Photo: Flickr

north korea
Media in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is tightly controlled. Television stations broadcast government-endorsed news and statements, documentaries affirming the god-like status of the Kim family and politically fueled dramas. Radio subscribers are treated daily to Kim Jong-Un’s schedule and criticism of policies that do not match the country’s own.

As with most technology, radio usage is restricted. Most South Korean broadcasts are jammed so that North Koreans on the receiving end hear little more than ‘jet plane noise.’ All legal radios in North Korea are tuned to specific stations. They are checked and registered with police.

It is radios of the illegal variety that are beginning what some are referring to as a ‘quiet revolution.’ Smuggled in from China or homemade, they access a variety of independent programming. Providing potential listeners with real-time news is the purpose of groups like Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and Radio Free Chosun.

One such group, Free North Korea Radio (FNKR,) was founded by Kim Seong Min. Once a North Korean soldier, Min tuned into a South Korean station “out of curiosity.” The program he listened to debunked myths surrounding Kim Jong Il, particularly regarding the place of the Great Leader’s birth. The more he listened, the more he doubted what he had been taught. Min eventually made his escape to the south.

FNKR, which is based in Seoul, now broadcasts three hours per day. Staffers, most North Korean defectors, report on the outside world. In an effort to protect their families, almost everyone but Min uses a pseudonym.

Radio stations like FNKR reroute the information paths into North Korea. For over half a century, the North Korean government has chosen and embellished its facts in a tactful manner.

Radio distribution has been spurred on by the black markets that have supported North Koreans since the famine of the 1990s. By engaging in private enterprises, these citizens undermine the state distribution system, and consequently break North Korean law. Even so, an estimated 80 percent of North Koreans are involved in the black market today. In 2010, research group InterMedia conducted a study  to see how much of the North had access to foreign media.

Radio remains the most effective means of communicating news to North Koreans. Curiosity, well-intentioned piracy and radios are breaking the government’s attempt at monopolizing the country’s media.

– Olivia Kostreva

Sources: ABC, BBC, The Guardian, InterMedia
Photo: The Guardian

afghan radio
In Afghanistan, many families suffer from the fear of not knowing where their family members are. But after thirty years of war, attention is finally being drawn to the issue.

An Afghan radio program called “In Search of the Missing” airs twice a week and takes calls from families who want to know where their missing family member could be, regardless of how long it has been since they last saw them. During three decades of war, approximately one million Afghans have gone missing, according to officials, and this number is rapidly growing as the battle against the Taliban continues.

Disappearances in Afghanistan are something that people have come to expect. The Afghan radio program has helped reunite over a dozen families and has provided answers to several others. It is a beacon of hope for a country of 30 million. Afghans make up the largest portion of the world’s refugees with a population of around 2.5 million people, and another 600,000 displaced in their own country.

A report from 2013 by the Physicians for Human Rights states that it has become commonplace in the daily lives of Afghan people for people to go missing, “throughout decades of conflict, massive displacements, deaths and disappearances.” The missing include young girls seeking a way out of forced marriages, young boys and others who disappeared during the Soviet invasion and civil war in the 1990s.

Despite the fact that it is commonplace for citizens to go missing, many Afghan people hadn’t realized the severity of the situation until “In Search of the Missing” aired ten years ago. Today, about one million people tune into the Afghan radio show.

Founded in 2004 by Zarif Nazar, the Afghan radio program aims to locate missing Afghans by airing stories shared by relatives in hopes that a listener may know where the relative is or even what happened to them. Since the Afghan government currently has no program in place to locate missing citizens, many of the Afghan people call the radio program, preferring to put their faith in listeners of the program rather than the government.

In 2013, Dutch investigators revealed a list of around 5,000 men and women who were presumed missing, but had actually been killed by the Afghan government in 1978 and 1979, providing answers for many families. While the Afghan government had originally compiled the list, it had not been made public.

“There are thousands of people who have no proof,” said Hafiz Rasikh, the head of political affairs for the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan. The group’s main platform is to gain clarity from the government regarding those who are missing. “Maybe they think their relatives were killed, but they can’t be sure.”

Because of the Afghan radio program, siblings living in Canada managed to locate their father 15 years after the Taliban arrested him. The program has had its share of successes in reuniting families divided by borders and even oceans.

-Monica Newell

Sources: The Island Packet, Arab News
Photo: Wikimedia Commons


We’re all busy. Hectic schedules and technology practically run our lives, so here are nine easy ways to make them work in your favor and become more globally aware.

1. Twitter
It’s not all celebrities and witty screenwriters. Worldwide news organizations like CNN, BBC, and the Financial Times host Twitter accounts. Follow them or have their updates sent directly to your phone. Keeping an eye on worldwide trending topics can also help alert you if news is breaking.

2. Google Alerts
More along the lines of a “target acquired” approach, Google Alerts allows you to plug any phrase, country, word, or person into the endless Google engine and have the new results delivered to your inbox whenever you’d like.

3. RSS Feeds
Most sites these days will have an RSS Feed option. Signing up for it allows you to have the most important news right on your tablet or computer without having to search the internet.

4. Global News Sites
Go directly to the source. Sites like BBC News and CNN allow you to see the most important articles around the globe and then divide them by continent and country.

5. Magazines
Political magazines tend to take the occasionally dull topic of foreign affairs and make them digestible for larger audiences. However, because they tend to be monthly issues, you only get the greatest hits.

6. Council on Foreign Relations Daily Briefs
Delivered to your inbox every morning, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) gives you a summary of the most important events around the globe, analyzes them, and explains why what they’re giving you is important. CFR tends to be nonpartisan, gathering analysis from both sides of the aisle.

7. News Television/Radio Channels
Turn that remote to your favorite news channel of choice and have it serenade you with factual goodies while working the evening away. Not a morning person? Turn on the news while making coffee or getting ready to help get the juices flowing.

8. Books
Transport the written word to your iPad or tablet and take it with you on the morning commute, or take a mental health break while waiting for a meeting. If non-fiction books aren’t your thing, try historical fiction like Khaled Hosseini’s novel, “The Kite Runner.”

9. Newspapers
They’re still alive! Subscribe to a newspaper and have it on your phone or tablet whenever you have time.

– Hilary Koss

Sources: CFR, Amazon, Financial Times, BBC News


February 13 was World Radio Day. Started in 2011 by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Radio Day is meant to commemorate the establishment of United Nations Radio in 1946. Since then, there have been unbelievable strides in mass-media and communication. According to UNESCO however, the radio still manages to reach 95 percent of the world, a feat neither television or the internet can claim to have achieved.

But what is it about the radio that has enabled it to be such a helpful tool for developing countries in times of war and general disconnect? Wave frequencies can be produced with the simplest transmitters. The actual radio itself, being portable and in many cases, battery-operated, makes it much more available than television and computers in villages and other rural areas where electrical outlets are hard to come by, let alone a stable flow of electricity.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended the use of radio “as a channel for life-saving information”. Discussing his life growing up in a Korean village, Ban Ki-moon stresses the importance of the radio for emergency instructions in times of war as well as the main source of information and knowledge for many. Whether it delivers breaking news or issues warnings to those living far from civilization, radios save lives.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova gave a speech on World Radio Day that focused on the wide-spread use of radios not just on a global scale but in smaller communities. Even though the areas the waves reach may not be extensive, it gives the younger generation an opportunity to learn and experiment with technology. Community radio, Bokova says, helps address poverty and social exclusion as well as empowers marginalized rural groups, young people, and women.

As UENSCO optimistically revives the meaning and purpose of the radio, evidence of its pricelessness can be found everywhere. In November of last year, the non-profit THNKR, which is a Youtube channel that showcases people doing amazing things around the world that have the potential to change the way we think and view each others’ and our own potential, posted a video of Kelvin Doe. Kelvin, better known from his radio name as DJ Focus, comes from Sierra Leone. He has become quite famous over the past year for his talent and gift of being a self-taught engineer. By scraping together whatever metals he could, he built his own FM transmitter and generator. With his own radio station, DJ Focus broadcasts music, has an open forum and enjoys entertaining over the radio like any other 16-year-old would, taking full advantage of everything his small radio has to offer.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source:UN News Centre



call talk radio

How to Call Talk Radio

Calling talk radio shows is an easy way to bring the issues to thousands of people.


1. Find a talk radio show. You can search the web for stations you normally listen to or simply search for local talk radio shows in your city. Most stations have a call-in number listed on their website.

2. Listen in. Make notes of how you’ll inject global poverty into the discussion being addressed. Write down the question or comment you want to say.

3. Call in. Depending on how busy the lines are, you might have trouble getting through initially. Be persistent. Try a different day. When you do get through, a staffer will ask you what you’d like to discuss and then put you on hold until the radio host calls on you.

4. Say it. Once you’re on air, make your comment or ask your question. That’s all there is to it! You just brought the issue to thousands of people.



Tip: Write a cheat sheet of facts and info to use.




This is How it’s Done!


Listen to a Borgen Project advocate call into a talk show and move a conversation about the Middle East to global poverty.

Search for radio stations in your city




C-SPAN offers daily opportunities to call in during live shows and directly ask members of Congress questions. C-SPAN Washington Journal Telephone Numbers (Live 7-10AM EST):

  • Democrats: (202) 585-3880
  • Republicans: (202) 585-3881
  • Independents: (202) 585-3882