Rapid Evidence Review: Radio

Key findings

  1. Radio can support more child-centred and interactive approaches in the classroom, as well as better opportunities for educators without access to other training. There is limited evidence on how educational radio might be used by students in informal contexts – such as the home – during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interactive, student-centred approaches should be considered for educational radio during COVID-19.
  2. Radio is most used for maths and language subjects. Evidence suggests radio is more effective in language-related topics than maths, especially with younger children. Radio’s strengths include its affordability, portability and inclusion amongst those who can’t read. Radio’s weaknesses are the fact that it’s audio-only and can’t be paused or replayed. For subjects at a higher level it’s worthwhile exploring how radio might be supplemented to make teaching more effective. This might be through print material to parents and students or other technologies with multimedia capabilities. 
  3. Radio is relatively cost-effective for delivering content at scale, especially in communities with low connectivity, digital literacy and electricity, as well as hard-to-reach students. Using radio may have significant upfront costs and is not as cost-effective with a small target population. The sustainability of radio depends on broadcasting infrastructure, collaboration with stakeholders and commitment to initiatives by successive governments. This is especially true where more advanced technologies appear. Therefore, it’s worth considering whether other technologies or even print, might be more cost-effective than radio during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Issues of data storage, privacy and consent need to be considered with online and mobile-based interactive radio. People increasingly access radio through online and mobile applications, so it’s important to think about privacy, storage and consent for users. This may be irrelevant to many low and middle-income (LMIC) countries because data isn’t collected.
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