The continuing spread of COVID-19 and subsequent toll it has had on many sectors of the economy including education has reawakened one of the novel albeit forgotten roles of electronic media, as an educational medium serving the educational needs of the people leading to development.
Schools in most parts of Malaysia are now closed in an effort to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the closure, educating the future generation is unabated to avoid a generation devoid of basic education.
Education, especially for the primary and secondary levels has now witnessed the deployment of television as a teaching medium. Since Nov 23, 2020, a new TV Pendidikan (Educational TV) programme has been aired on NTV7 to provide students with learning materials during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).
This collaboration between the Education Ministry and Media Prima Berhad (MPB) to broadcast the DidikTV@NTV7 educational programme on NTV7 is a step in the right direction and should be upgraded and sustained, moving forward.
The role of electronic media in education is largely an aspect of development communication which involves the use of media and communication channels to accelerate development. The main idea behind development communication is the use of media for development of people in a nation or to help the target population. Communication seeks to serve the people.
This has been long overdue as over the years electronic media has been dominated by entertainment and commercials, sidelining the developmental role of media and communication channels.
Moving forward, electronic media in the country should carry on with this noble initiative in a systematic and organised manner.
For the hinterlands of the country, the use of radio sets will go a long way to provide the required basic education for the pupils. Educational radio is the term given to the use of radio in formal learning systems, whether primary or higher education. It is typically used as a means for course material delivery, and often integrated with various kinds of interaction.
The education ministry, in collaboration with the media organisations and NGOs, should forge more working relationships to realise this noble initiative, especially at a time that the world is facing a pandemic.
Radio towers should be installed at strategic areas, especially in the hinterlands of the country where access to educational facilities, including internet coverage, are limited if not present, to facilitate education so that the young generation of pupils are not left out in the quest for education.
Let’s take the opportunity presented by the pandemic to make the electronic media, especially radio, play its educational role.
Dr Ali Salman is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Language Studies and Human Development, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan.