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'Broad Class - Listen to Learn': Interactive Radio Instruction Program
What is Broad Class?
POWER99 Foundation is the pioneer of the Interactive Radio Instruction program in Pakistan. Broad Class-Listen to Learn uses Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI), to improve quality, equity, and inclusiveness. The distance education system combines radio broadcasts with active learning and interactive teaching practices. IRI builds on local resources and knowledge, using radio partners with schools in regions which have shortages of qualified teachers, school infrastructure, and learning materials. Evaluation of the program shows a positive impact on children's holistic development, attendance, and performance, as well as improved teacher development and access to school resources.
Radio is the main tool used for the 'Broad Class – Listen to Learn' program. Due to public broadcast and accessibility, it makes educational inputs accessible to a highly mobile population on a sustained basis. The program is combined with entertaining, relevant content effective in educating children, families, and communities, improving instruction quality and supporting Government efforts to attain SDGs and other goals.
Teachers’ professional development is an important component of the program. Teachers are trained and oriented on sound pedagogy, interactive teaching techniques, lesson planning and class management. Broad Class–Listen to Learn (IRI) provides instruction to teachers and students simultaneously. It explicitly takes into account the likelihood of poorly trained or even absent teachers and uses reliable, low-cost and flexible delivery models, such as broadcast radio or audio files pre-loaded onto MP3 players.
The content covers all basic universal cross-cutting themes based on the general and universal principles for early childhood education, including literacy, numeracy, English and life skills. The daily 35 minutes broadcast includes thematic lessons with rhyme, a health tip of the day, and a teacher guide. Radio lessons guide teachers and students through activities, games, and exercises that teach carefully organized knowledge and skills. During short pauses built into radio scripts, teachers and students participate, reacting verbally and physically to questions and exercises posed by radio characters. Broad Class – Listen to Learn improves both quality and equity of education, with significant learning gains for all participants, including gains in girls' achievement, closing the rural-urban education gap, and increasing access to education for out-of-school learners.
The design of the program allows high interactivity amongst teachers, children and radio characters. The Broad Class – Listen to Learn program emphasizes links between educational domains and content areas. Scientific knowledge (dependent upon vocabulary building), cultural practices and arts taught through performing songs about letters or numbers in traditional styles. Inquiry, curiosity, and excitement about learning are built into each program.
The program features female role models that challenge gender stereotypes. For example, one character named Gul is a very outspoken girl, who loves learning and is not ashamed to express her ideas even when she is not sure of herself. Ameena Bibi, a radio teacher character in the program, takes joy in teaching primary school pupils’ basic literacy and numeracy. Dialogue and stories throughout the series encourage girls to be confident of their ability to learn and contribute meaningfully to society. Girls are deliberately chosen to answer certain questions. During radio lessons, teachers are instructed to select equal numbers of boys and girls to participate in activities. These strategies help establish a girl-friendly learning environment that encourages girls to enroll and complete primary school. This is particularly important for rural areas of Pakistan, where there are very low levels of female school enrolment, as well as low levels of retention and completion at all stages of education.
Due to public broadcast, wide accessibility and community acceptability, family and community participation supports growth and educational sustainability. Through the medium of radio, the approach reaches a shadow audience of community members, whose understanding of their children’s education is enhanced, enabling them to better support their children and engage in a dialogue around improving education, especially for girls. Parents can listen to lessons, for example, while shining shoes in the market, selling fruit and driving taxis. Parents listen at home, at work, or even attend school with their children. Parents have thus become more aware of the educational content, and the ways that it is taught in school. Not only are they more inclined to send their children to school, but they have become more involved themselves. Many parents now support the school through the provision of resources and facilities. For instance, when one school had no water, the community arranged a water supply to the school from a nearby religious school.
The program has benefited more than 100,000 children, educators, members of School Councils, and parents and community members in five different districts of three provinces in Pakistan. 60% of program beneficiaries are girls and female educators.
The program has proved itself to be a revolution in the development sector for providing quality education through social behavioral change.
Some notable achievements of the program are as follows:
The program is winner of TESOL The Mary Finocchiaro Award for Excellence in Nonpublished Pedagogical Materials Award, 2018.
Featured in the United Nations Paper presentation on Language, the Sustainable Development Goals, and Vulnerable Populations in the May 2017 symposium.
The program has won First Prize in Most Innovative Development Project category during 17th annual Global Development Network conference held on 18th of March 2016.
The Broad Class program is documented as innovative pedagogical approaches in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in the Asia-Pacific region (2016) to support ECCE practitioners, researchers, international development partners, and policy development professionals as they work and advocate for inclusive, quality early childhood care and education in various contexts
DW, program Global 3000, telecasted a report on Broad Class – Listen to Learn and declared it "a minor revolution in the field of education‟, in Pakistan.
BBC News (TV) telecasted a special story about the program and declared that it is the program which can help Pakistan in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).