DEVELOPMENT REPORT - Community Broadcast Radio

By Gary Garriott

This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

Computers and connecting to the Internet computer system have become important in recent yeas. Information and communication technologies make this happen. Through some of these Special English reports, we have been exploring ways in which information and communication technologies can permit more people to use the Internet.

Many organizations believe that everyone, even poor people, should be able to use information and communication technologies. However, people must know how to read and write in order to use computers. In many countries, more than half the adult population cannot read or write.

Now a United Nations agency has an idea about how to bring information from the Internet to people who cannot read or write. The agency is UNESCO - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO has projects that combine two information and communication technologies.

One technology is community broadcast radio. The radio station you are listening to now, the Voice of America, has big powerful transmitters set up around the world. But it is also possible to use small transmitters operating at low power. Broadcasts from these stations reach only a few square kilometers. But many people can listen to the radio within this area.

Community broadcast radio is combined with computers and the Internet at a multi-media community center. For example, farmers can go to the center and ask a question about a farming problem. Then workers at the center search the Internet for an answer. They broadcast the answer to the whole community over the radio station.

Many groups are experimenting with this idea. One is Radio Kothmale in Sri Lanka. People from community radio stations all over the world met in Koth-male at a meeting supported by UNESCO. They learned what has made Radio Kothmale a success. And they learned how to use the Internet in their own programs to help people who cannot read or write.

You can get more information about Radio Kothmale and UNESCO at the Internet address, www. unesco. org. Or you can write to Special English, Voice of America, Washington, D-C Two-Zero-Two-Three-Seven, U-S-A.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Gary Garriott.

Voice of America Special English