World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


East Timorese Youth Make A Success Of Radio

East Timorese Youth Make A Success Of Radio

Young people have made a success of community radio stations in the tiny country where all infrastructure - schools, clinics and houses - was destroyed during the fight for independence.

DILI (Community Empowerment Project (World Bank)/Pacific Media Watch):

In Timor-Leste, the voice of independence, news and future is broadcast by a handful of young people, who run community radio stations.

After the country's infrastructure--including schools, clinics and houses--was destroyed in 1999 by the violence related to the vote for independence from Indonesia, most Timorese became refugees overnight.

The international community poured in to help the country economically, socially and politically.

A high illiteracy rate exacerbated two challenges facing what would become one of the newest and poorest countries in Asia:

* Getting the economy back on track and

* Maintaining the sense of community solidarity

With radio being the primary source for news and entertainment for the region, part of the Community Empowerment and Local Governance Project by the World Bank-administered Trust Fund for Timor-Leste focused on establishing community radio stations. For many remote communities, these eight new stations are their only way to engage in their new democracy and connect with the outside world.

Community Connectors

'Community radios can empower poor people by fostering participation and giving them access to information and a channel for their aspirations,' explains Loty Salazar, Information Officer with the Bank's East Asia and Pacific region, who led the Bank's efforts to establish the radio stations.

These grassroots radio stations were envisioned as independent entities that would be owned by local communities and run by trained volunteers. The start-up funding has furnished the stations with broadcasting equipment, tape recorders and motorcycles. They continue to provide training for more than 100 volunteer reporters, managers and technicians.

Community Builders

Though faced with the usual challenges of sustainability and uncertain media regulations, the community radio stations continue to flourish especially among young people, who have since become skilled broadcasters.

"When the project called for volunteers, we didn't expect the stations would primarily attract young people," says Salazar. Most volunteers are in their late teens or early twenties.

"They are very dedicated and take their jobs seriously. 'With continued encouragement and support from their communities, they may soon be broadcasting a much wider range of programs, including dramas and development documentaries,' Salazar adds.

Apart from learning broadcasting skills, the stations have encouraged young people to become active in their communities. As volunteers seek out, research and report on events and topics, they get in contact with local officials and community leaders. They also can help promote transparency and local governance.

For example, in one village, when the treasurer of the development committee received money from a development fund, he kept it for himself. The village council invited him and a reporter to a meeting, and, in front of everybody, asked the treasurer to account for the money. The treasurer promised to return the funds and apologized to his community. The meeting was later broadcast on the radio.

Community Leaders

The stations have also become fun places for young people to hang out, especially for young women, who are ready to take up the challenge of becoming capable technicians, broadcasters, interviewers and reporters.

Timor-Leste is a very traditional society. Girls lead sheltered and protected lives, and are rarely allowed to be outside the house. But working on the radio has given them an opportunity to prove themselves, build their skills and increase their confidence. It is also a place and a type of work that their families approve of, says Salazar.

Moving Forward

Plans are underway to expand radio programming to engage youth in discussion about local interest, as well as educational and health programs. In addition, a new program 'Leadership Capacity Building for Economic Development (LED)' is leveraging the success of the radios to engage youth groups and youth-at-risk in policy dialogues with their community leaders and government.

We can only hope that the Timorese society, including the government, is prepared to allow the youth become an engine of growth and social innovation, concludes Salazar. +++niuswire


PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

(c)1996-2004 Copyright - All rights reserved.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news