Ears To Our World is working closely with our partners at Oklahoma State University and the Belize Ministry of Education, who themselves have a standing partnership in impoverished areas of Belize. OSU has created a learning lab at Unity Presbyterian Primary School, located in the heart of the most impoverished section of Belize City. The OSU learning lab supplies laptop computers and teacher training, while the Ministry of Education provides internet access, which can be difficult or expensive to obtain in Belize, within the lab setting. ETOW, meanwhile, has supplied portable self-powered radios to each teacher in the primary school; Thomas Witherspoon, ETOW's founder and Executive Director, was on hand to provide radio programming and training to these teachers.
Not only will Unity's teachers be able to receive global news and information via radio, both at home and at school, but they will share this information with their students for enhanced classroom learning.
Together with Dr. Edward Harris, OSU Professor and Williams Chair of Educational Leadership, Dr. Blayne Mayfield, also of OSU, and with the encouragement of the forward-looking Ministry of Education, ETOW hopes to develop a means by which radio can be used for distance learning throughout the country, and perhaps even for computer training.
Regarding the relevance of radio in education, Dr. Edward Harris, who helped originate the OSU learning lab, writes:
I have had the opportunity to travel to some remote areas of the globe. One common goal of almost every family I’ve met is for their children to have the best education possible. While the world has made strides in trying to bridge digital, economic, and social divides, there are still many areas of the world where children do not have equitable educational opportunities. In these areas, economic, geographic, and political conditions often make getting a good education impossible. In short, although people around the world recognize that education is necessary for personal, national, and global improvement, far too many children are not only left behind, they are left without hope.
One way to bridge the educational inequities that pervade global society is through audio podcasts and radio communication. Radio, especially self-powered radio, is a cost-effective and sustainable means to disseminate pertinent educational information to populations in remote corners of the globe.
While most of us in the western world are relatively adept in computer and internet technologies, many people around the world still do not have computer and internet skills. Self-powered shortwave radio has advantages over other modern communication technologies, because it’s inexpensive, user-friendly, and transcends political, geographical and economic boundaries.
ETOW looks forward to a continued and lasting partnership with OSU and the Belize Ministry of Education, and to an expansion of this laboratory program to other areas of Belize, so greatly in need of educational support.