Media persons savored the rare opportunity for a candid discussion on school improvement and how they can play a positive role.
The occasion was the District Media Sensitisation Workshop on Media for Education held in collaboration with Abdul Wali Khan University. Second of the series, the workshop brought together 30 carefully identified media representatives from print, radio, television, and social media. Spread over five sessions covering media’s participation, advocacy, media mobilisation. The group laid groundwork for a new narrative on education and what role they can need to play in the campaign to promote an equitable and inclusive education culture as a shared vision by the schools and civil society.
The Participatory Session set a conversational and lively tone for the workshop, which helped in developing a sense of the present district media scene and a gathering a database of young journalists’ network to help sustain the momentum generated by DFID assisted Humqadam Programme.
The Advocacy Session aims to bring the credible voices of education scholars into the equation. Vice Chancellor AWKU, Professor Dr. Ihsan Ali, emphasised that the improvement of schools comes first in the process of development. Primary school is the first rung in the ladder of education. He said, “We all have a great stake in building better schools.”
The Media Mobilisation Session took off to a spirited start with a passionate, convincing narrative by Dr. Humayun Huma, an eminent educationist and a leading columnist of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He urged young journalists to go for concerted efforts to take reporting earnestly, objectively, and with the right agenda- especially for the cause of inclusive and equitable education.
As a part of Humqadam’s Communications Strategy to bridge the disconnect between the media and the Education Department, District Education Officer (female) Ms. Samina Ghani, highlighted that that the provision of quality schools is paying quick dividends as evidenced by the number of returning students. She observed that school improvement is showing positive results on students’ enrolment, retention, and completion. Sharing evidence-based facts and figures GGHSS Shebaz Garhi; she said, ”118 girls who had dropped out sought re-admission after summer break as the school now boasts quality classrooms, clean toilet blocks and a much better ambience.”
GGHSS Shahbaz Garhi is one of the 330 schools in Mardan where reconstruction and rehabilitation work is in progress.
The community team of three members shared with the media their experience of engagement in school construction and rehabilitation to make sure “quality construction” is not compromised. Post-SCRP assistance, the schools have taken a positive turn, with additional classrooms and toilets. Haroon Shahbaz, Community Committee for School Infrastructure member, remarked, “Now we are fully motivated to play our part. We have drained pools of stagnant, dirty water, and filled potholes with self-help.
The Group Work Session saw journalists thrash out an implementable Media Plan with commitment from media’s young, upcoming journalists with senior journalists in coordinating and coaching roles. District Media Sensitisation Workshops scheduled for seven districts will help to identify a core team of over 200 education-friendly journalists paving the way for the facilitation of Young Journalists’ Network for Education.