High school in South Sumatra breaks new ground with radio station
By Channel NewsAsia’s Trixia Carungcong in Sumatra | Posted: 15 February 2007 2131 hrs
INDONESIA: One of the top high schools in Indonesia’s South Sumatra province has launched a radio station that is breaking new ground.
High school students in Sekayu take to the airwaves at the launch of their community radio station.
Called the Suara Smanda or Voice of Smanda, the station will air programmes to reach out to the student population and beyond.
In times of disasters, it will also help disseminate information to the public and coordinate emergency response.
The area experiences widespread flooding during severe monsoon seasons as well as annual forest fires.
While there are many community radio stations across Indonesia, this project is unique – it is the first radio station in Indonesia to be run by high school students and teachers.
Apart from its use in warning people during disasters, it will serve as a platform for informing the community about current affairs and educating them about social and development issues.
While many homes have television sets, radio is still the most popular medium in the province.
John Pederson, English Teaching Assistant, said: “It has the potential to bring in news from Jakarta, from Singapore from anywhere in the world with a very simple receiver. It can broadcast to the Sekayu community, providing an immediate benefit to the community and it also gives students an idea of what quality journalism sounds like.”
Students will get the latest news from the newly built internet café, which has 10 computers with broadband access.
The internet cafe and radio station were built by an NGO in Singapore, with help from local authorities and an Indonesian foundation.
They hope to improve the quality of education by creating a model school for the province.
Eddy Henry, Sampoerna Foundation’s Program and Alumni Affairs Director, said: “This is just a start. The education problem in Indonesia is such a big problem and the Ministry of Education cannot do the work itself and neither can Sampoerna Foundation. So we are trying to gather support firstly from Lien Aid and Lien Foundation from Singapore to help us work together to help the other areas of education.”
Organisers hope that in the long run, the students will feel empowered to make a difference in their community.