The radio was first invented in 1895, but has been used an educational tool for the last 80 years. In celebration of World radio Day 2018 we will be exploring how the radio has influenced education across the globe.
The radio has mainly been used as an educational tool in distance learning both on a formal and in formal level. In Australia School of the Air also known as radio schools in the mid 2000s used the radio as the primary medium through which lessons were transmitted from teacher to student. The teacher would broadcast the lesson over the radio during a designated session and then the students would spend the rest of the day doing assignments through the assistance of a parent, older sibling or personal tutor. This type of educational method was known to be used in the outback of Australia where it is difficult to get to a school. However, in recent years the use of the radio has been superseded by the Internet. Nonetheless the role the radio has played in making schools of the air a success cannot be forgotten.
The radio has in the past also played an integral role in informal education and continues to do so. This has been found mainly in the agricultural sector in the rural areas of developing countries. An Example of this was in the Oshakati area of northern Namibia, local radio is part of non- formal education project entitled “cattle is our livelihood” to improve cattle keeping practice among local farmers. One of the most widespread uses of the radio as an educational tool is what is known as Farm Radio which was led by UNESCO. This consisted of forums, printed materials, two way communication and various production techniques. This was first introduced in India in 1956 and then Ghana in 1964, since then the program was rolled out several developing countries. These radio programs were mainly focused on agricultural issues, rural development, literacy, innovations and rural education.
In present day the radio is still used by Distance learning institutions such as the Open University, UK, NAMACOL, Namibia and BOCODOL, Bostwana. Where the radio is used to transmit knowledge in terms of documentaries and various different programs.
Admittedly the radio’s role in education was more widespread and influential in the early to late 2000s era; but as the Internet has emerged and taken over the globe, it has taken the place of the radio in some educational arenas. However, it is fair to say that the radio has paved the pathway for the internet in education by providing a way of reaching those in rural and less developed areas that have a limited exposure to schools. Additionally, it provided a medium in which to facilitate and grow informal educational programs that directly impact on the livelihoods of rural farmers and continues to do so today where internet in not present or there is very limited access.