Restoring broken or unjust relationships of an economic, political, social, emotional or spiritual nature and working to sustain hope for a shared future is a process that involves all of society. Historically, the media was involved in reporting facts of war; contemporary media seeks to help rebuild and support a culture of peace. In this section Tania Manners, a state-registered Dramatherapist from the UK, with a Masters in Health Communication specialising in peacebuilding radio, shares insights from her research and subsequent design of an 8-day Peacebuilding Radio Training course (Mindanao, S. Philippines, 2001-2).
The research set out to discover and determine the issues that affect contemporary media in conflict situations. When the evidence was researched and gathered, gleaned from reviewing the literature, listening to the voices on the ground (visits) and collaborating with agencies and experts in the field, training tools - with embodied principles - were devised to enable and equip grassroots practitioners to find fresh ways of building pathways to peaceful co-existence.
In 2001, a pilot peacebuilding radio training course held in Davao, Mindanao, showed up a need for future training in peacebuilding radio programming in conflict or post-conflict cycles.
From this pilot training course, it became clear that there were gaps in the knowledge and skills of the local practitioners. They included:
· A lack of knowledge of local peace processes and issues
· Insufficient knowledge of media and communications theory
· Ignorance of terminology and language used in reporting
· Lack of support from commercial station management in peacebuilding radio programming initiatives, and
· Lack of time – due to pressures of deadlines and from commercial sponsors, to discover the issues and root causes of conflict as they affect the listener.
As the 8-day Peacebuilding Radio Training Course was trialled, evidence emerged in support of offering training as a means of equipping and enabling local radio practitioners in developing countries who were introduced to methods for networking with other organisations and key individuals across the spectrum of society. This was seen to be a crucial element in helping to sustain a culture of peace by working together for a shared future.
The benefits – training for sector reform in developing countries:
Without sector and socio-economic reform, poorer countries risk being increasingly bypassed by new technologies. For example, reform processes create opportunities to pass legislation to encourage pro-poor telecommunications growth. From a socially transforming perspective, the key determinant is to ensure broad-based access is encouraged (D’Arcy & Mayne, 1997, IMPACS, 1999). An informed media can advocate for bringing about sector reform, but many programmers and producers in emerging economies have insufficient knowledge on the subject of sector and socio-economic reform, and the necessary skills/frameworks to target decision-makers with programmes for social transformation.
Principles and broad proposals for training were identified and applied to training designed for the Mindanao context. The application of the principles served to extend and strengthen the relationship between peacebuilding and radio programming. Peacebuilding RadioTraining seeks to equip radio programmers and producers with the knowledge, skills and frameworks required to implement an advocacy programming strategy.
Should training for peacebuilding radio be joyful?
I believe so! Working with radio practitioners in Mindanao, Southern Philippines, showed me something I hadn’t considered too much as I ploughed through the textual requirements of training design. My eyes had become dimmed to the ways of learning that are natural to people who live closer to the ground than those of us who live in the West. I witnessed how non-text based learning methods including theatre games or skills are vital to sustain energy levels and help release creativity for learning and the application of new skills. I questioned myself deeply, “how can one even attempt to address such matters of grave concern with a curious and light approach in such a theatre of oppression and fear?” Yet I too was affected and changed by the joyful spontaneity and immediacy of local tutors (from Notre Dame University, Cotobato, S. Phillipines, and Curtin University, Perth, W.A.) and young radio practitioners alike.
I discovered that exploring issues from within the safe space provided by the aesthetic distance created through spontaneous and directed enactment, images and words found their way into the forum to help us (who had no other means of communicating all the nuances of cross-cultural languages) to grapple and learn together. I observed that when the practitioners enacted their perceptions of the key issues/problems experienced daily in the workplace through dance, music, role-play, games, improvisation, mime and play – it became easier to visualise fresh perspectives bringing greater clarity and encouraging deeper discussions. All present took time to honour the various emotions expressed, showing that we had heard one-another’s dilemmas without judgement and with deep respect.
Consequently, we moved forward together.
The experience of the training project in Mindanao urged me to consider the importance of the relationship between the trainers and the participants and led me further on in my own journey to train as a Dramatherapist, working primarily with children with learning difficulties. This work often feels like a cross-cultural experience, and I have had time to reflect further on the relationship between those helping and those seeking help. This correlates on many levels to the relationship between the trainer and the trainee, and is a great starting point for the sharing of ideas, to consider ways in which peacebuilding radio training can be delivered with maximum impact in various contexts.
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