The Gambia National Commission for UNESCO in collaboration with the UNESCO Regional Office in Dakar Monday started a three-week capacity building training programme for nine community Radio Broadcasters in the country.
The training, according to officials is expected to build the skills and capacities of community radio presenters across the country on news gathering, packaging, interview techniques, and live coverage, editing and production as well as financial record keeping, marketing and basic skills in radio maintenance.
In her speech at the opening of the training at the Gambia Press Union office, the Liaison officer for Banjul, Hadjan Dovcoure, disclosed that The Gambia community radios are facilitating the freedom of expression and access to information by providing crucial support to the ongoing democratic process.
The potential of community radios to reach the Gambian people, even those with little or no access to information, allows them to educate and inform about crucial issues.
She divulged that the contribution of community radios to the democratic process is undeniable, adding that they have the ability to allow communities whose access to information and means of self-expression are limited, to voice their concerns and make their views known on decisions that concern them.
For his part, the deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information, Malick Jones, informed the gathering that since 2004, well-meaning Gambians have been advocating for capacity building training for journalists so that journalists will be able to contribute effectively to the democratization process.
“We believe the media can contribute immensely if the journalists are well trained. In 1965 there was only one community radio station,” he said.
Community radio plays a crucial role when it comes to the dissemination of information in their various communities but they struggle with equipment and electricity problems, as such they need support, especially from the donor countries.
The director of Community Development, Buba Joof, lauded the training, stressing that it could not have come at a better time, especially when one looks at the capacity gaps that exist in some community radio stations and the role community radios play in nation building.
“Community radio stations are enabling isolated communities to voice their own concerns. Ordinary citizens have the opportunity to discuss issues that is central to them on air, such as gender relations, group organisation and management, popular participation, health and education, combating HIV/AIDS amongst others,” he said.
He regretted the fact that despite the increase in new information outlets, there are still millions of people in Africa including The Gambia that remain voiceless.
“Most media in many parts of the world still remain largely state controlled. But the tide of democracy sweeping the continent has seen governments loosening their grip on the airwaves, paving way for a more inclusive participation in the media through mass communication tools.”
Speaking on behalf of the radio broadcasters, Modou Touray, thanked the organizers for their noble gesture, noting the training would enhance the skills of the community radio presenters to a large extent and would help presenters to play key role in the new democracy.