BENGALURU: Asha (name changed) a high school student in a small village near Chitradurga alerted the child helpline about two of her seniors, who are hardly 15 years old, getting married at a village fair. She called 1098, a helpline number, a day before the marriage was to take place, and the officials concerned went to these girls’ houses and stopped it. The incident was on air at the Namma School Radio (NSR) station, started by like-minded people eight years ago, which has penetrated across 35 government and private schools in Karnataka.
The radio station provides a platform for children to showcase their talents, interact with elders in their villages or any resource people, and demonstrate many multi-dimensional approaches.
Instead of creating awareness among villagers about child marriage, the radio station believes that “sometimes, the littlest voices have the biggest things to say.”
Varsha from Nagavalli Government school in Tiptur (Tumkur district) spoke about plastic menace. “I interacted with a few elderly people in my village about the food quality in their times and how the quality of food had come down. We got an opportunity to speak to the elders, and the same has been broadcast,’’ she said. Her friend Varshita spoke about birds in her villages.
Girish Kumar, the man behind setting up the station, was with TV media for several years and had experience in HAM radio. “It started when I visited a government school at the Naduvinakere village in Tiptur taluk of Tumkur district. Most of the media is city-centric and not children-centric. That is when we thought of using radio to attract children to school and with their help, reach the elders in the village,’’ he said.
Kavitha Kammanakote, another team member says as most of the media is urban centric, they are trying to make it more rural centric. “Everything rooted to the village — farmers, women’s self-help groups or nature, will be spoken about by children. They anchor it,’’ she said.
They choose smaller village and government schools, where they conduct week-long workshops. They are taught about the basics of radio, the use of radio and the technical aspects. “After three to four days, they will be introduced to a smaller device, Personal Pi, that has basic buttons to record, pause and upload, which will be connected to earphones” Girish explained. The curator or the editor from Namma School Radio team will edit and upload the same on their website. The people in villages with basic handsets could also tune in.