|Children selected for RJ training attend a class and (below) students get on-the-field experience. Pictures by Ashok Sinha
Patna, Aug. 22: Their days and nights are spent on streets. Schools are a far cry and studies a luxury they can't afford. Most of these children were leading a wayward life, loitering around in the slums, before Azad Bachpan, an NGO, decided to "tune them up".
A group of 40 children, selected from slums in Patna, Gaya, Lakhisarai, Samastipur and Araria districts, are being trained to produce radio programmes. The unique training is being imparted to them in the state capital.
These children, from the poorest of families in Bihar, are being trained as radio jockeys to spread awareness about issues like child labour, children rights and health care among children as well as adults.
The objective of this programme is to reach to a vast audience, particularly children, with messages meant for them. For the purpose, the NGO thought of getting radio jockeys who could immediately connect to the audience and form a bond. And who better to utilise then children themselves.
Azad Bachpan is planning to set up community radio stations at Patna, Gaya, Lakhisarai, Samastipur and Araria districts. The NGO has been working for the cause of children for past one-and-half years. Its team visits remote areas of Bihar and convince the families living in slums to send their children for training to Patna. Their idea is to train the children in a way they can take up radio jockeying as a livelihood option.
“We have plans to launch Radio Community which will not only address the issues concerning children's lives, but also be produced by children so that the programmes connect well with the target group,” Azad Bachpan founder chairman Ajay K. Singh told The Telegraph.
Most of these children being trained belong to dalits, OBC, EBC and Muslim families, who live in abject poverty and cannot afford to study. According to Ajay Kumar Singh, the chosen areas have high radio penetration and 70 per cent of rural population of these areas are regular radio listeners. “What we look for while selecting the children are their diction and pronunciation. Also their fear of public speaking needs to be addressed before making the final selection," said the founder.
Thirteen-year-old Simaran Rani from Lakhisarai district said, "I never thought in my wildest dream that I will become a radio jockey at this age. The credit goes to Azad Bachpan which discovered my talent and gave me the opportunity to learn the skill."
Azad Bachpan receives financial assistance from Panos South Asia, an organisation of radio journalists of South Asian countries. The NGO makes arrangements for food, lodging and other basic requirements of children during the training period.Their training includes news gathering, conducting interviews, script writing, editing, mixing and voice over.
Fourteen-year-old child Ravi Ranjan, a rescued child labour, said: "I am very much thankful to this NGO which not only rescued me but also provided me a better life. Today I can do script writing, editing and anchoring too."
Presently, these children broadcast their show twice a week on Wednesday and Sunday at Patna radio station through a programme called Chhoti Chhoti Batein. The radio programmes are aired on 621 Megahertz. So far they have aired more than 130 programmes.
"The radio community is not yet formed but we are planning to launch it soon,” said the founder.