COVID-19 Response: Strengthening scriptwriters for educational radio programmes in Madagascar

In Madagascar, to limit the spread of COVID-19, some 7 million learners from primary to secondary school have been affected by nationwide school closures. In light of this, the Ministry of National Education and Technical and Vocational Education (MENETP) has developed a strategic response plan to ensure the continuity of learning. One of the actions put in place is the broadcasting of educational radio and television programmes for all classes on essential subjects following the school curriculum.

UNESCO, through the Capacity Development for Education (CapED) Programme and BEAR II, is supporting the design and national dissemination of radio and television packages for General Education and Technical Education. The multimedia packages include self-learning booklets, pedagogical sheets, and radio scripts, which are conceived by MENETP’s pedagogical designers. As well as helping provide a recording studio, CapED is strengthening the skills of 20 scriptwriters on the production techniques of educational radio programmes.

The scriptwriter’s job is to transform pedagogical content that follows the national curriculum, which is provided by teachers, into engaging radio scripts, adapted to each year group. The scripts will then go on to be used in the recording and production of educational radio programmes.

One of the scriptwriters who attended the training, which took place from 10-21 August 2020 , was Hasina Razanamorasoa, head of the vertical analysis of study programs division, within the Curricula and Inputs Directorate (DCI) who oversees the design and development of curricula and teaching materials for Basic Education within the MENETP. She is responsible for the design and development of curricula and teaching materials for Basic Education and she works with teachers to identify learners’ needs and creates engaging learning activities and content, such as audio, video, roll play and games.

Hasina explained the many advantages to using radio in this time of crisis. “Since learners will not be able to go to school, radio is the most suitable tool that is easily accessible by all learners, even in the most remote areas,” she said.

She added: “In this workshop, I learned the techniques of writing a radio script, based on an educational sheet, to capture the listener’s attention.” Other methods she uses to keep learners engaged is to stay close to the curriculum and to always have the target audience in mind. She explains that the activities should correspond to the needs of the learners, taking into account their age, class, and daily concerns. “These criteria allow us to propose activities that are a little more fun and adapted, while arousing their motivation, their interest and even their autonomy while listening.” She said.

Another participant who attended the training was Véronique Elise Razafimalalarisoa, Head of Pedagogy and School Life / DEF / MENETP and Pedagogical Advisor for college teachers in Natural Sciences. She said that for the next steps, “thanks to this training, we think we are well equipped to manage the new recordings. However, as technology is evolving rapidly, we need to periodically update our skills.”

Alongside the other 18 trained scriptwriters, Hasina and Véronique will now apply their knowledge and expertise to act as a quality control for the conception of future educational radio programmes, thereby ensuring stronger national ownership and sustainability of the initiative.

Through CapED’s and BEAR II’s COVID-19 related interventions in Madagascar, the Programme aims to support the production of 867 radio lessons, as well as other digital content. The Programme is also focusing on broadcasting awareness-raising messages, reaching for parents and guardians to encourage their children to take part in the radio lessons. In this regard, the two Programmes aim to reach over 250,000 households in Madagascar.

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