"BBC Media Action’s radio programmes are part of Girls Education South Sudan [GESS], a major initiative designed to increase the number of girls enrolling in school and completing their education, as well as improving learning outcomes at both primary and secondary levels of education by 2018."
Our School is a series of 15-minute factual radio programmes, broadcast in South Sudan through BBC Media Action, that includes stories of girls, families, and schools with the purpose of highlighting the benefits of girls staying in school. The launch of the radio programme was 2014, reaching 946,000 people within four months. The programme supports girls' education, which was reinforced by the forming of South Sudan’s first Girls’ Education Strategy through the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and partners' support of the South Sudan Ministry of Education, announced on August 7 2015.
Because, according to UNICEF, as few as 35% of girls attend school in South Sudan, behaviour change communication (BCC) is being implemented by GESS and BBC Media Action with the goal of "creating an enabling social-cultural environment for supporting girls’ education through social and behaviour change communication through radio and community outreach." A communication objective of BCC efforts in South Sudan is for "communities to speak out, express their aspirations and concerns and participate in the decisions that relate to their development".
In order to overcome cultural, economic, environmental, and logistical barriers, Our School broadcasts of life stories are designed for promoting "behavioural and social change with regard to the benefits of girls’ education. Each Our School programme highlights a practice or attitude that hinders girls’ education. This includes, for example, leaving girls to walk to school on their own - and face harassment - or loading them up with too much housework when they come home."
These magazine-style radio programmes are produced by a South Sudanese team of producers who "follow the lives of girls and their families as they struggle and resolve the challenges of going to school. These on-air role models act as positive examples, encouraging listeners to adopt certain behaviours over time. Each programme ...target[s] specific knowledge, attitudes and behaviours identified as being supportive of girls’ education. There [are] also ...Public Service Announcement (PSAs), which are 30-60 seconds snaps that ...provide information to girls, families and schools."
Our School producers are currently based in seven out of ten states, "each producing locally-tailored episodes in the appropriate local language and including local voices. BBC Media Action is also working with local broadcast partners to produce discussion programmes that provide audiences with an opportunity to ask questions." Languages include Arabic, Dinka, Zande, Madi, and Lotuko.
Community mobilisation and outreach include 175 listener groups, street theatre, and debates, mirroring the themes set out in each radio programme, for communities where there is no radio coverage and/or communities that speak a different language from the one broadcast. As part of the project, people can listen on wind-up, solar-powered media players. Radio programmes are available here.
Education, Gender, Children
According to UNICEF: "There are pervasive gender disparities in education in South Sudan. For every 10 boys enrolled in primary school, there are just seven girls. At secondary level the number of girls compared to boys is twice as many. Overall rates for primary school completion across the country remain low at around 10 percent, with girls constituting the majority of dropouts."
UNICEF, GESS, BBC Media Action