The community radio of the Jadavpur University, 90.8 Radio JU, has started airing special programmes for children — particularly those from the economically weaker sections — who are among the worst hit by the COVID-19-forced restrictions.
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“The children are among the worst affected due to the pandemic. They have been deprived of schools and playgrounds. My experience in radio production confirms that radio is a medium that is easily accessible to children and has great potential for their development,” Imankalyan Lahiri, who teaches international relations at the university and is the convenor of the community radio, told The Hindu.
The programmes will be made in partnership with the West Bengal Commission on the Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) and will be aired every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The first programme was aired last Wednesday.
“The WBCPCR felt that children with no access to Internet or smartphones can be reached through the offline mode, which includes the use of community methods. The community radio can help children in street situations by making up for the lack of online learning. The programmes will include storytelling, live classrooms, music, drama and talks and interviews on child rights, environment and adventure,” Mr. Lahiri said.
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The channel is east India’s first community radio, started in 2008, and can be accessed within a 10-km radius. During the lockdown, it had suspended operations and had started a Facebook page — Radio JU Fight against COVID-19 — which, within a short period, had become a vast network of the university’s present and former students who were helping the needy. They reached out to the elderly stranded at home and also ran kitchens in and around Kolkata to feed migrant labourers.
Underused in education
“Radio is underused in education; its potential as a learning tool is often underexploited. Radio creates dialogue, it is interactive: one listens and speaks. It is a school without walls. At the same time it is fun and also strengthens local culture. Having said that, the channel will also broadcast its programmes on its Facebook and YouTube pages,” he said.
“We will also have talks for the benefit of parents and guardians. They will directly deal with problems related to the pandemic, social stigma, social exclusion, disability, and sexual violence. There will also be programmes for differently abled students,” Mr. Lahiri said.