Thursday, May 5, 2011
By Helen Egbe Ayamba,
The Regional Director of Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV Littoral, Serge Ngando Ntone, has lauded the opportunity given by the COL Cameroon Link Partnership Liaison to media men and women of the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ, to learn about the activities of the Commonwealth of Learning.
Serge Ngando Ntone was speaking during a one day workshop at the conference hall of CRTV Littoral in Douala on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day 2011.The COL Cameroon Link Partnership Liaison, James Achanyi-Fontem, shared the experiences and content of the on-going Commonwealth of Learning pilot programme in Lebialem, south west region of Cameroon and how it is impacting behavior change and communication with the communities there.
Patricia Oben, National President of CAMASEJ, told the participants at the sharing workshop, that it was a great opportunity to learn and discuss about COL activities, especially as Cameroon is one of the 54 member-states of the Commonwealth. She invited members to make good use of the information relayed by the COL Cameroon Link Liaison person, who he described as a veteran journalist and broadcaster, who remains an example to be copied.
The theme of the workshop was centred on the use of 21st Century communication tools for informing and educating communities within the scope of Open Distance Learning, ODL. The workshop facilitator told media men and women in Cameroon that Commonwealth of Learning is coordinated from Vancouver, Canada and that it provides a wealth of services and collaborative opportunities for policy makers, institutions and distance education practitioners to encourage the development of, and help enhance, the use of open and distance learning (ODL) policies, systems and applications.
He added that COL guides media professionals on how to use modern technology as a means of increasing the scope, scale, quality and impact of member-countries’ education and training systems. The application of technology through ODL techniques has shown its power and value in many countries and for many purposes. Achanyi-Fontem shared the experience of the radio-in-box experiment in Kochi, India during the 6th Pan Commonwealth of Learning Forum in November, 2010 saying that participation, education and development are the key guiding principles for giving equal opportunities to citizens of any community.
COL partnership liaison person described “Community Media” as any form of media that is created and controlled by a community, either a geographic community or a community of identity or interest. He reminded the media professionals that it is increasingly recognized as a crucial element in a vibrant and democratic media system like Cameroon.
Community media is "Community Communication” because it can take so many forms, be applied by so many different groups of people, and be directed at a wide range of issues like the case of Lebialem, where the issue is using Lebialem Community Radio to inform and educate the community on mother and child health care through the story design matrix. He observed that no single individual or organization can change a community. All target groups within the community have to be involved for any results to be achieved. The role of the experts are to guide citizens on decision making and seeking solutions to problems concerning their well being and livelihood.
Achanyi-Fontem told Cameroon journalists that the success of the Commonwealth of Learning lies on the fact that the organization has no axe to grind any where on the planet during its application of “Learning for Development” principles. From experience, it was reveal that community media is a facilitative tool for discussion and engagement of the ordinary citizenry and has some inherent implications, because the key characteristics of community media convey a more clear understanding of its definition as well as its depth and dimension in terms of how it takes shape in the civic landscape.
The community media programme in Lebialem is serving as a means by which to avoid self-marginalization in the health matters while still adhering to the principles of community interests and social objectives within the reproductive health domain and acts as a means by which local news and information is disseminated. This is allowing citizens to inform themselves about the issues taking place around them.
Lebialem Community Radio is said to be becoming a powerful tool for learning for development, especially informal learning for improving health and livelihoods, because it is both a mass medium and a local medium. It is now providing non-formal educational opportunities, especially for non literate communities in the division.
From interactions between the programme producers and the listeners, it has been observed that the radio is a focal point for community driven learning, that allows learners to identify their own priorities based on participatory mechanisms of assessment. Radio Dramas, storytelling, interviews and songs are used as effective and low cost ways of making community voices an integral part of the learning process.
COL Cameroon Link Partnership liaison invited CAMASEJ to get involve because it is a win-win direction. The CRTV Regional director, Serge Ngando Ntone, recommended that COL should create more capacity building opportunities because the community media scope in Cameroon is fast expanding but formal training possibilities are narrowing down.
Participants asked questions on the use of internet links, how to design media community driven projects and where to get funding for execution media projects and the facilitator shared a few links with the journalists and broadcasters. One participant asked why funding agencies focalize in some regions and not others. The liaison person explained that good governance remains a challenge and road block for many Africa countries and sub regions. He added that when funders discover organizations with excellent delivery records, they do not hesitate to make a contribution. He made it known that organizations should work as a network to achieve better results when funding become rare.
He concluded by quoting the on-going Africa Radio Research Programme Analysis taking place in five countries, Cameroon, Malawi, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania to learn how radio stations go about producing farmers’ interest programmes, the difficulties encountered and how they are overcome. Websites were shared after introducing the persons behind the different Community of Learning initiatives.Sir John Daniels was introduced to the Cameroon journalists as COL President and Chief Executive Office since 2004. Before occupying the position of the chair, Sir John Daniels had gained wide international experience in universities and the United Nations systems.The Vice president, Prof. Asha Kanwar doubles as COL Programme Director and She is responsible for stakeholder engagement and programme direction. Ian Pringle is the Media Education Expert directly monioring the COL Cameroon Link Partnership action taking place in Lebialem, Cameroon and contributing to areas for consolidation of impact. The focal points of the Commonwealth of Learning in Cameroon are Prof. Tambo Leke and Dr. Ndume Ndume, who are both top level government officials in the Cameroon education sector.
CRTV Littoral station manager, Kenneth Asobo, told participants that he is particularly delighted to have had the opportunity of participating in the workshop, especially as he is only two months old in Douala. He wished that several such opportunities be created for fruitful exchanges, since it remains a learning and sharing of experiences process.
Participants at the Commonwealth of Learning Exchange workshop came from Cameroon Radio Television, Spectrum Television, Canal 2 Tv, Cameroon Post, Cameroon Tribune,Radio Veritas, l'Effort Camerounais newspaper and Africa News Agency, just to name a few.Some important web site links shared with the journalist for gathering programming materials include: www.col.org,http://cscuk.dfid.gov.uk/
http://www.cscuk.org.uk/alumni/alumni_general.asp,www.farmradio.org, "IJNet Editor" firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.gfwc.org,www.awid.org dealing with women's rights issues,http://bit.ly/fq2Ruj,http://bit.ly/4pxeD5,www.waba.org.my