Building safer communities through youth-led radio initiatives in South Africa

Building safer communities through youth-led radio initiatives in South Africa – Be inspired

In a nutshell

'Building safer communities through youth-led radio initiatives in South Africa' is a project of the Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF) run in partnership with Gun Free South Africa and local radio stations, and funded by the European Union. The overall objective of the project is to increase awareness and knowledge levels among young people around issues of violence (with a particular focus on gun violence) and crime within 18 individual communities across all nine provinces in South Africa. It also serves to provide platforms for youth to serve as leaders, advocates, and peer educators to reduce and prevent violence and crime and help contribute to safety within their communities. In partnership with Gun Free South Africa, youth and community stories will be used for parliamentary submissions to influence gun control laws coming under review.

What we do

Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF) is a partnership-based organization that sees as a core part of its mandate to provide support, capacity building, project management systems, and clear pathways for CBOs, community radio stations included, to increase their impact on youth populations. All partner CBOs are provided with access to these support systems, and ongoing opportunities for organizational advancement.

CRF is building Community Discussion Boards (CDBs) at each site that will serve as community-based coalitions of concerned youth, leaders, citizens, and representatives from civil society. Built into the initiative’s curriculum development activities is the creation of open-source materials and training and project management resources that enable sharing of knowledge, best practices, and replication.

Youth have increased participation in governance, accountability and public policy processes through this project.  In partnership with Gun Free South Africa (GFSA), CRF enables youth participation to inform public policy, shape youth-targeted community interventions, and promote local accountability around violence reduction and crime prevention-related initiatives. Radio broadcasts, dialogue events, and outreach activities aim to mobilize a wide cross-section of youth within individual communities to share their experiences and participate in interventions concerning issues of violence reduction and crime prevention. Through creating inter-generational community-based dialogues, youth participation in community structures will be elevated, and create greater accountability.

How we do it

Activity 1: Project launch event
1.1. A project launch event with project stakeholders (including NGOs, government, CBOs, media, and youth) was held to ensure visibility and buy-in to the initiative, and to share information that was uncovered during the baseline study (hosted by GFSA, with assistance from CRF).

1.2. CRF and GFSA utilized baseline findings to develop a three-week social media strategy for the project launch, targeting national stakeholders and enlisting youth participation at the project sites. CRF works with all radio station partners to ensure that local launches occur through their broadcast and other communication channels. This commenced the community engagement activities for the initiative, and assisted radio stations in growing interest among their listenership (the social media strategy is developed by GFSA, with CRF coordinating with radio station and CBO partners).

Activity 2: Curriculum Development around issues of crime prevention and violence reduction
22 radio production guides and 6 outreach discussion guides have been created for young reporters to enable well-informed, nuanced, and ethical reporting and broadcasting on issues related to community safety, crime and violence. These issue-driven production guides are geared towards providing youth reporters with the tools to interrogate how the topic actualizes itself within their community, and provides pathways for tackling the topic through a variety of lenses. The outreach discussion guides also includes tutorials on community organising and activism, and topics related to legislation and policy around crime and violence. All tools are shared on CRF’s Learning Room for open source use by other radio stations and organisations (all materials are developed by CRF with input and topic-specific training from GFSA).

Activity 3: Curriculum development for training workshops
Curriculum manuals and training resources have been developed for 4 CRF Regional Trainer Training of Trainers workshops (RT-ToT), 6 Local Facilitator Training of Trainers workshops (LF-ToT), and 4 youth reporter training workshops. These will also serve as regional and local implementation guides for the larger project, and provide these key resource people with the support systems, methodologies, and tools to engage youth to achieve project objectives. These curriculum manuals and training resources enable 2 RT-ToTs in both year 1 and 2, 3 LF-ToTs in both year 1 and 2, and ongoing youth trainings throughout the two-year cycle. All tools are shared on CRF’s Learning Room for open source use by other radio stations and organisations (all materials are developed by CRF with input and topic-specific training from GFSA, while GFSA is developing all materials around community organising/advocacy and policy).

Activity 4: Youth facilitator training
4.1. 4 training workshops (RT-ToTs) are conducted over 5 days with CRF’s five regional trainers over the two-year period. The CRF’s five regional trainers carry out training workshops and ongoing capacity building and support for 3-4 of the 18 radio stations within the region in which they are based. These RT-ToTs enable a clear understanding of the project initiatives and the issue-based materials, and allow the regional trainers to provide the appropriate lines of support to the community radio stations and other initiative partners. They enable regional trainers to build community based partnerships, and to assist local radio station youth facilitators in supporting youth reporters. All tools are shared on CRF’s Learning Room for open source use by other radio stations and organisations (all materials are developed by CRF with input and topic-specific training from GFSA).

4.2. 6 training workshops (LF-ToTs) will be conducted over 2 days with 24 radio staff youth facilitators over the two-year period. Each of the radio staff youth facilitators will carry out ongoing issue-based workshops and administer support to youth reporters who are tackling the issues of crime prevention and violence reduction in their reporting and broadcasting efforts. Each training is designed to a) add value to project management tools, b) advance issue-based knowledge around a specific theme, and c) provide additional youth participatory media skills. All tools are shared on CRF’s Learning Room for open source use by other radio stations and organisations (all materials are developed by CRF with input and topic-specific training from GFSA).

Activity 5: Youth reporter trainings
4 youth reporter training workshops will be conducted over 3 days with 360 young reporters at 18 community radio station sites over the two-year period, in order to ensure that youth reporters are well-versed with the content areas, that their technical radio and broadcast skills are well-developed, and that the project administration systems are in place to support their wide range of reporting, broadcast, and outreach activities. Trainings are designed to foster a clear understanding of the relevant issues and to support the localising of content material to achieve context-sensitive community engagements. CRF’s trainings bring together diverse community stakeholders, and skill the youth to engage in community-based and collaborative reporting around the specific topical focus around crime prevention and reducing violence (CRF’s RTs will assist LFs to facilitate all youth trainings).

Activity 6: Youth reporters produce and broadcast youth produce radio programmes about violence, crime and community safety
Youth reporters produce radio programmes about violence, crime and community safety twice a month at all 18 sites. CRF’s youth reporters have broadcast slots each week on their partner community radio station, and produce shows that resonate with the vast interests and livelihoods of its listenership. CRF’s youth reporters dedicate two shows per month to themes of violence reduction, crime prevention, and community safety. Each radio show consists of a collection of youth reporting that was conducted in the preparation period for each show, and is packaged and presented within a live radio format. Youth reporters work in partnership with CBOs and other members of the CDBs to inform the specific topic for each show, and to encourage collaboration and broad participation in reporting and broadcast. Each community radio station facilitates audience participation via SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, and call-ins to the station, and is able to track listener response. After broadcasting shows, youth reporters incorporate community feedback into their planning for subsequent shows, to ensure responsiveness and consistency from show to show (CRF’s RTs will assist LFs to facilitate all youth reporting and broadcast).

Activity 7: Youth reporters conduct 108 outreach dialogue activities
Youth reporters conduct 108 outreach dialogue activities within schools and in partnership with CBOs as part of the CDB activities. These youth-led outreach activities will be shaped around select specifically themed broadcasts on the community radio stations, where they utilize radio productions and other audio material to generate a discussion within the outreach audience. With 54 outreach activities scheduled for each year, these dialogue events are also utilised to facilitate inter-generational conversations, and to ensure adult perspectives and inputs are included within the scope of the larger initiative. Each group compiles a report on their outreach dialogue activities to enable sharing of ideas and best practices from site to site. Hosted by the youth reporters in partnership with the community radio station, the outreach dialogue activities are also structured to promote the youth broadcast and other initiative activities, and to grow the participation in the CDBs (CRF’s RTs assist all LFs to facilitate all outreach dialogue activities).

Activity 8: Youth career planning workshop and graduation ceremony
8.1. CRF will host a one-day career planning workshop at each project site, including sessions on visioning and planning for one’s future, career guidance and study/employment opportunities, CV writing, and role-playing of job interviews. CRF will involve local organisations, businesses, and educational institutions to facilitate the process, and to share opportunities for youth participants (CRF’s RTs will assist LFs to facilitate the career planning workshop).

8.2. Graduation ceremonies will be held at each site to celebrate the achievement of the youth reporters, involving their parents, and other community members. CRF graduates will receive a personalised letter of recommendation along with a certificate of achievement (CRF will facilitate all graduation activities, and will provide letters and certificates).

What we have achieved

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is ongoing. Ongoing monitoring, evaluation and learning systems are conducted by CRF and radio station staff.
• Ongoing M&E relates mainly to attendance, radio, audience and other technical aspects and not directly to measuring impact - but rather quality.
• Ongoing monitoring at a local site level is conducted by the radio station youth facilitator in the form of attendance registers and monthly reports on broadcasts, CDB and outreach activities. This includes radioshow broadcast summaries and records of listeners’ feedback through calls, text and social media.
• CRF regional trainers will conduct focus groups with beneficiaries, most significant change story interviews as well as surveys and reports on training workshops during their site visits.
• Surveys are conducted using tablets, which are automatically centralized to a CRF SurveyCTO database. Qualitative data is translated, transcribed and coded using Nvivo softerware. All data is analysed and reported on by CRF’s Monitoring and Evaluation (MEL) Officer. Reporting on project activities is done quarterly in the form of a Project Manager Report. Reporting on Outcome level will happen in the baseline, mid-term update, and end of project report.
• CRF’s MEL Officer will work in close partnership with GFSA and a panel of experts around the design of the baseline and the measurement of project impact.

What we have learned

CRF has brokered solid relationships with CBOs across all 18 project sites, engaging them as primary partners or associates to the youth radio network. CRF’s active drive to enrol CBOs with a view to capitalise on their topic expertise for youth as well as amplify their work, has created value within the local ecosystem. Entities that did not previously work well together now do, as CRF has been able to shift the relationship from a transactional one to one of value, especially with cash-strapped community radio stations. Local authorities in education as well as municipal bodies support CRF’s work with youth and communities, having seen the impact on the direct target group most especially. Local leaders are also supportive of CRF’s work, especially as youth reporters include elders and traditional authorities in outreach activities and programme generation. Intergenerational dialogues not only include older voices in current conversations but also foster good relations.

*This project profile was compiled by Nina Callaghan and Jacqueline Van Meyggarden of the Children's Radio Foundation.