About the Project

This project is one of the 2013 WISE Awards finalists.

Radiophone uses a combination of community radio and telephone-based systems to deliver literacy, numeracy and healthy habits content through Galli Galli Sim Sim (GGSS, the Indian Sesame Street), which is culturally, linguistically and contextually relevant to migrant populations, to help children prepare for school and life. Radiophone leverages the equity of Community Radio and combines it with telephone-based systems to make educational inputs accessible to a highly mobile population on a sustained basis.

Context and Issue

India is the world’s largest democracy and one of the fastest growing economies. It also has a third of the world’s poor. While poverty is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional, a large body of research links improvements in education with poverty alleviation. Despite best efforts, too many children in India drop out, do not attend school, or attend poor quality schools that fail to address their needs, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and poor education.

Migrant labor communities in India are amongst the most marginalized. For a family, migration means forcing children to leave or drop out of school in their native villages, and problems with access or admission into schools at work sites. It is therefore critical to address the educational needs of migrant labor populations, especially since evidence indicates that migratory populations are growing.

Solution and Impact

The project model is based on the idea that low-cost technology solutions combined with entertaining, relevant content are effective in educating children, families and communities. The learning objectives of the project focus on improving literacy: vocabulary, storytelling, wordplay, sound discrimination; numeracy: problem-solving, numbers and counting, cause and effect; healthy habits: physical, social and emotional health.  Additionally, the content addresses parents, teachers and the community on the importance of girls’ education and health, and encourages discourse on the social development needs of marginalized families.

Preliminary results from research, conducted using an ethnographic qualitative and participatory methodology with the community radio stations, show that communities are increasingly discussing issues around community participation (28 percent), the Galli Galli Sim Sim radio program (23 percent), and improvements in their own capacity and skills (20 percent). Three-month data shows that 32 percent of stories document “changes in the quality of life” in listeners and 32 percent mention “changes or improvements in children’s learning levels”. Twelve percent of these stories also document changes in practice and behavior in three months of exposure to the radio show.

Since 2011, the program has reached over 1.4 million people and received over 50,000 calls across 10 community radio stations. 

Future Developments

In the coming years, the project intends to: 

  1. Seek funding to continue and expand the scope of the project.
  2. Explore sustainable revenue opportunities with mobile operators.
  3. Work with community radio forums to review policies around transmission and advertising opportunities. The long-term objective for the project is to sustain radio programming to reach populations that are marginalized.

Three strategies are being studied to achieve the above:

  1. Listeners to pay to access content on phone: a “pay” model has been started in one of the community radio stations, where the audience has to pay to access the GGSS content.
  2. Making GGSS content available through mobile phone operators and service providers.
  3. Disseminating widely the impact of the project to relevant stakeholders.
April 26, 2013 (last update 12-30-2020)