M.B.: What’s the main goal of the radio program?
E.A: The goal is to serve as a voice for young people on their development needs. We have a specific objective of holding policymakers and relevant authorities accountable on youth development issues.
M.B.: How does the radio program help empower youth?
E.A.: “Gems of Our Time” represents an incredible development discourse platform run by youth, for young people. Being involved in this project has helped us learn more about development issues, from education to poverty reduction to sexual issues. We are equipped with professional skills – including soft skills such as strategic thinking, team building, and policy-influencing skills – which we believe will prepare us for the future.
M.B.: What challenges do you face?
E.A.: The initial challenge was the public acceptance of young people’s self-assertion. Meaningful youth participation was considered an exception rather than a norm by many people, who believed youth should not be heard. However, over the past years we have made some great strides in influencing public policies. This has convinced some that young people are key actors in development.
M.B.: What about the future? What role can the government, private sector, and international organizations or NGOs play in ensuring that radio stations enhance participation in the diverse public sphere?
E.A.: The government can ensure that all radio stations have slots for young people’s programs and design a system to ensure that views expressed on such programs feed into ongoing national debates and shape public policies on young people’s development.
M.B: Personally, I perceive that although still very basic in its functioning, radio has come a long way. I still have very fond memories my life as a youth in Ghana, when I used to tune my radio to the BBC’s “Focus on Africa” to listen to African development happenings at 16:00 GMT. Radio still holds its own even in an age where everything is seen and heard digitally. World Radio Day 2014 is an opportunity to improve international cooperation among broadcasters and to encourage major networks and community radio stations alike to promote access to information, freedom of expression, and gender equality over the airwaves.
Moving forward we need to make radio and broadcasting youth-friendly by allowing young people to host their own radio programs, either in partnership or with guidance from adult allies. Through such opportunities we will be investing in the next generation of journalists and speakers, who will tell development-centred stories. This is something I am very much looking forward to and I can see a bright future, not only for radio, but for young people.
How can radio promote youth development needs? Share your comments below.