This Visakhapatnam-based couple is teaching life skills to school children through audio workshops

Aruna Gali and Udaya Kumar from School Radio, a skill development workshop for children. It teaches school children to produce online audio stories.  

“Visakhapatnam has ample opportunities for children to go beyond textbooks. The question is are the teachers and parents willing to encourage such learning?” asks Aruna Gali, founder of School Radio, an audio production workshop for school children.

School Radio’s reach in the city
  • Three-day workshops at Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Residential (APSWR) Welfare, Tallapalem and Marikavalasa; AU English Medium School, China Waltair, BC Welfare Thanam and Simhachalam; Oxford English Medium School, Sitammadhara.
  • One-day workshops at NT School, Akkayyapalem; RK School, H B Colony; ZPHS School, Chinnagottigallu, BVK School, Visalakshi Nagar; KDPM School, Kirlampudi Layout, Chaitanya Public School, Steel Plant, Green City English Medium School, Gajuwaka.
  • S Rupavathi, Principal APSWR, Madhurawada says, “After the School Radio workshop, the increase in children’s self-confidence shows. Schools should encourage learning through activity. I’m planning to conduct another School Radio workshop in next few months.”

Aruna and her husband Udaya Kumar started School Radio about three years ago. Udaya used to be a teacher trainer instructor while Aruna worked as a content creator for national and international non-government organisations. Her blog and Telugu e-books platform — Vikasa Dhatri won the 2014-2015 Laadli Media and Advertising Awards for highlighting gender discrimination in the agriculture sector.“Our aim is to help children communicate confidently and build technical skills like script writing and audio editing. Any interested child can join School Radio,” says 50-year-old Udaya who conducts workshops for School Radio.

How School Radio works

In 2016, School Radio was inaugurated by the Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Minister N Chandrababu as a part of the State’s Tribal Welfare & Social Welfare Educational Institutions in Vijayawada. Since then it has been implemented in 35 schools across nine districts in Andhra Pradesh, training over 3000 students and 250 teachers.

These are three-day workshops. About 50 students are taught how to record stories and edit them. “On the first day, most of the students are shy. But by the second half of the next day, about 80% have overcome their reticence and want to be on the mic,” smiles Udaya. Along with the students, teachers are trained as well so that the activities continues after the workshop.

Children record music as a part of School Radio workshop

Children record music as a part of School Radio workshop  

The students are divided up into teams of 10. After a brief orientation on how to record audio and edit them using Audacity, an open-source audio editing software, children take charge of the production. From singing songs to reciting short stories, they are allowed to pick topics. “It’s wonderful to see children take up individual responsibility in the project and take feedback from their peers,” says 46-year-old Aruna.

Children ready stories as a part of School Radio workshop

Children ready stories as a part of School Radio workshop  

According to her, it’s important for the children to come out of their shell and express themselves fearlessly. If everyone goes back with a feeling that they can do this, the workshop is a hit says Aruna. “When a child makes a mistake it shows they are interested in trying. . Instead of criticising we tell them what needs to be done as many times as required because using a negative approach often kills the spirit of doing in children,” says Aruna. P Leelabharami, former student of Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Residential (APSWR) School, Tallapalem was a part of the workshop two years ago. In 2017, she attended the first National Women’s Parliament in the State along with four other members and interviewed people there. “Before the School Radio workshop, I didn’t have the confidence to speak in public let alone take interviews. Attending the National Women’s Parliament and interviewing leading professionals was a great experience ,” she says.

Future plans

In May, School Radio will conduct a week-long summer camp for children above fifth grade. Besides publishing audio recordings and e-books, they will also work on improving their website so that it’s more user-friendly. According to Aruna, many children are passionate about being writers but are not sure what to do with this as a career option. Aruna and Udaya hope their efforts will encourage children and their parents to explore opportunities beyond engineering and medical science.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 9:43:48 AM |

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