The role of interactive radio instruction (IRI) in increasing access to education : A case of Lusaka and Chipata Districts

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Nyangu, Wendy W.B.
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This study set out to examine the role of Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) methodology in increasing access to Education, in selected IRI centres in Lusaka and Chipata Districts.The objectives of the study were to; assess to what extent quality education takes place using the Interactive Radio Instructions; determine how many children were accessing education through Interactive Instruction (IRI); establish whether this open system of learning could be the alternative mode of learning for even out-of school population, and establish what the intended curriculum was, and whether that curriculum was being implemented. Data were collected using questionnaires, interviews, documentary review and focused group discussions. A sample of 183 respondents was selected for the study.There were twelve (12) Ministry of Education officials under the Directorate of Open and Distance Education, three (3) officials at the Education Development Centre, eighty (80) parents, eighty (80) pupils and eight (8) mentors. The results showed that parents, pupils, communities and education officials believe in and are keen on using IRI to reach and extend education to the hard to- reachchildren.It was also found that IRI overrides the problems that are associated with accessing of education, participation, retention and achievement. Over-aged children and push- outs, for example, had been given a second chance to attend school.The findings revealed that when IRI just started on a small scale in 2001, the older children who wished to follow an accelerated learning programme were greatly helped since IRI programmes covered two grades in a single year.Further results showed that since IRI inception, about 56 000 pupils had accessed education with the help of mentors who had received necessary skills to mediate the radio programmes. It was also discovered that quality education was being achieved in IRI centres. Differences in both attendance of classes and reading abilities of children who went to IRI centres and those who went to conventional schools were reported. But the mentors who were volunteers stated that an allowance should be given to them to sustain their livelihood. In this report communities which they served were not doing enough. The study found that the curriculum as intended, was the curriculum that all the centres under the IRI methodology were following. This was the same curriculum which was also followed by regular schools in the MoE , and it consisted of six core subjects namely; Mathematics, English language and Literacy, Science, Social studies, Moral and Spiritual education, and Zambian language. In addition to the above core subjects, the study learnt that information on HIV/AIDS was taught in view of the challenges it posed to the teaching fraternity The revelations from this study point to one thing, that factors determining primary education, access and enrolment in Zambia, especially in remote and rural areas, is the proximity of the school to school going age-children population. The implication is that MoE should place schools within walkable distances of children, because parents do not want schools that expose their children to physical hazards in the name of schooling. The other implication is that when people's poverty levels are too high, the government should provide compensatory education to help people meet their childrens' educational needs. The conclusions drawn from this study also point to the fact, making education accessible to today's children is not a waste of the country's meager resources but is a strategy for breaking the shackles of poverty, ignorance and disease. It would be an investment that would increase their productivity. Increased access to education would lead to an end of wasted human resource and accelerate the meeting of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for Education by 2015. Arising from the findings of this study, the following recommendations were made: 1. There should be redistribution of resources towards alternative forms of education like IRI. 2. These alternative forms of education should run alongside conventional schools because of their flexibility and extended reach to many children. 3. MoE should hasten to develop radio lessons for grades six (6) and seven (7) since there is a gap that is created, since currently radio lessons end in grade five (5). 4. Lessons for junior secondary classes should be introduced to enable children continue learning and not regress into illiteracy and street-kidding and other vices. 5. MoE should consider paying allowances to the mentors in IRI centres to boost their morale and help them lead decent lives.
Radio in Education--Zambia , Radio Broadcasting--Zambia , Educational Broadcasting--Zambia