- ABOUT US -
The who, what, and why.
We operated our radio show actively in 2018 and 2019, but we are currently on hiatus as our team is currently focusing on full-time study. However, we encourage you to read about our mission and work, and get in touch if you have any queries regarding our future work.
We’ve all seen it: inequities in educational and career opportunities due to an injustice by no fault of the students affected—the varying qualities of their education systems. It exists everywhere and on every scale, from two sides of a Californian town to two countries in Africa.
Our names are Talia Drayton, Shannon Yang, and Shannon Yuen, and we started e-JangRadio as Global Citizen Year fellows living in Thiès, Senegal for our gap year. Educational inequity is especially evident in Thiès, and in an effort to ameliorate the situation, we created a radio show (which will be made into podcasts as well) in English, and led by students learning English, to increase accessibility to English listening material, especially for those with no consistent access to the Internet.
After interviewing individuals in our community from all walks of life (taxi drivers, women, students, professionals, etc.), we observed that there is an obvious, widespread desire to learn English. Used as the lingua franca across the globe, learning English can open doors to bilingual or English jobs and help individuals grow their businesses to include an international clientele.
English provides the agency of communication with the rest of the world. One teacher we interviewed told us, “Once you step off of the plane, English is the language you communicate in, and not French.” Though international languages of wider communication aren’t the only means for upward economic mobility, learning another language provides a whole new realm of knowledge, experiences and opportunities for people.
Why listening material?
Through our work in various fields of organizations in Senegal (ranging from a women’s NGO to a tailoring/hair braiding apprenticeship to a local high school), a common problem that we all recognized is the lack of educational opportunities.
We’ve observed how students learn English from first grade (in private schools) or sixth grade (in public schools) up to graduation and still, many are not comfortable with holding a conversation. Having never listened to the speech of native speakers, they have trouble with pronunciation and common English conventions as well.
Though short English readings can be easily distributed and thus are relatively widely used in Senegal’s English classes, the case is not so for audio, due to a relative dearth of appropriate material on the web, and inaccessibility to the web itself. As a result, students in Senegal, even those who can write and read relatively well, have trouble listening and speaking the language.
Why through radio?
The supply of learning resources isn’t sufficient enough to meet the demand of English learners. We’re always met with locals—including English teachers—asking us the same questions of where they could find English learning resources. Even so, not one English radio show in Senegal exists.
To suggest that they should simply go onto the internet to find resources is not a viable solution since, as of 2016, only 23.4% of Senegalese people have access to the internet.
Tuning into a radio station, however, is much more accessible and affordable.
On another note, radio stations in Senegal are able to reach demographics (in inland, rural areas) that the internet is not. And since we want to avoid interjecting unsustainable changes as foreigners, we strive to fully utilize the pre-existing structures and mediums of communication within our community.
What We Do and Why
Just like almost any American high school would have a Spanish Club and a French Club, the presence of an “English Club” is ubiquitous in Senegalese high schools. Students gather to do exercises, participate in debates and discussions, and supplement their formal language studies.
Not only do English clubs exist in schools, but also in the wider community as well. Business professionals, university students, and “talibé” children who beg for money all participate in community English clubs. The culture of English clubs in Senegal is thriving, and our platform taps into this existing energy and cultivates it even further.
This project serves to motivate and inspire students to learn and improve their English. We aim to include as many local high schools’ and institutes’ English clubs to participate as possible, allowing the students to be hosts the show (along with their teachers). For each show, students pitch a theme for the day and create a plan ahead of time for its content and how the show would be run. We would encourage them to discuss topics like world news, culture, business, music, local socio-economic political issues, etc.
This program is student-driven, as we believe that when youths are able to take charge of their own education, it empowers and cultivates their leadership skills. We only hold the role of facilitation by giving guidelines to participants when assistance is needed.
There are many educational benefits to this experimental educational model in which students are themselves a part of creating content. Instead of taking a backseat and just listening to the radio, they can improve their speaking skills on air and build their leadership and confidence. Since students are deciding the content, it is less likely that they will be uninterested or apathetic. Now in control of their own learning, students can be more engaged, not only in learning English, but in subjects that are discussed on air as well, such as history, science, and economics.
We're on every Saturday on SudFM 102.2.
- ACCOLADES -
Global Startup Weekend Women Dakar
T-Mobile Changemaker Challenger Winner
In collaboration with Ashoka
Global Citizen Year
Final Community Project Grant
- PHOTOS -
The team after winning 3rd place!
Carla Marie and Anthony Interview
Shannon Yang and Talia at T-Mobile
Get Together Thies TV
Access to Education in Senegal
Emission from 9/29/18
Volontourism in Senegal
Emission from 10/6/18
Salome Interviewing People
Talia is a student at American University.
Shannon Yang is a student reading Philosophy. Politics, and Economics at the University of Oxford.
Shannon Yuen is a student studying International Relations and International Law at the University of Edinburgh.
A graduate of UWC Red Cross Nordic, Salome was a 2018-2019 Global Citizen Year Senegal fellow.