Community Radio Active 90.4 MHz comes up with its latest edutainment project to teach the basic concepts of Mathematics
Mathematics has an omnipresent ring to it. Be it our daily lives or the workings of the Universe. One of the ventures of Radio Active 90.4 MHz, the community radio of Jain University is applying this universal principle to understand the daily life of domestic workers in the form of the radio serial, Arya Bhatta.
Arya Bhatta is being produced by Radio Active, the community radio of Jain University as a part of the Radio Mathematics project awarded by the National Council of Science and Technology Council, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
The present format of this radio serial has been structured after intensive research by Radio Active and its partner organisations. One of the methodologies used to ascertain the media, content and structure was Focus Group Discussion.
Four sections which became the subject of the focus group discussions were the girls from Government schools, the boys from Government schools, teachers from the government schools, and the domestic workers from a pre-defined area. These discussions were meant to understand the perception of these groups towards Mathematics, its application in day to day lives, the receptiveness of a radio programme based on Mathematics, test the level of Mathematics, plan a radio series on Mathematics for the radio and invite opinions for the format and characterization for the programme.
Based on findings from these discussions, a pilot survey was conducted with domestic workers which finally lead to the birth of Arya Bhatta, a 180 episode long radio soap opera. The serial is being aired under the banner of Radio Mathematics. It is based on Arya’s story. Arya is the daughter of a domestic worker, Mangla and the plot revolves around her growing up days. The serial is set in Jayanagar Bysandra East. It is being broadcast every alternative day between 2.30 to 3.00 pm and a repeat broadcast from 7 to 7.30 and 9.00 to 9.30 pm on the same day and 12.30 to 1.00 pm on the next day.
Community radio is considered a very powerful medium to reach out to people at the grassroot level and giving them voice in the mainstream. Arya Bhatta is also making an attempt in the same direction. It weaves the ordinary tales with the thread of Mathematics and brings forth the life of domestic workers and their day to day struggle to the fore through the life of Arya, her family and friends.
More than 30 episodes of the serial have been aired successfully. The initial episodes established how people from the economically-weaker section of the society are often taken advantage of. The first episode introduces Arya. She is interviewed by RJ Priyanka of Radio Active and tells the story of her life in flashback. She was an eight year old leading a blissful life with her parents and brother when tragedy struck her family. Arya’s father fell sick and lack of money to be able to pay the medical bills pushed them straight into the clutches of a pawn broker.
While repercussion of this tragedy unfolds in the following episodes, it throws light on two aspect. One is how ignorance of basic principles of mathematics, addition, subtraction and simple interest lead to Arya’s family becoming victim of a vicious cycle. The second aspect of the programme is that it explains the basic concepts of mathematics through the day to day dealings of Arya’s family.
The serial also includes a number of concepts that are required to ensure smooth functioning of our day to day life. For instance, the 6th and 7th episode of Arya Bhatta focuses on the concepts of speed, time and distance. Other episodes discuss simple counting, calculation of interest rates, kilometre reading and mileage as well as talk of weight, proportions and multiplications.
Endeavours of the community radio to teach mathematics and understand the lives of domestic workers at the same time has been well received and the project coordinators feel that many more outreach programmes are required to help people ingrain mathematical principles in day to day lives. It would help those from the economically-weaker section to be more vigilant and prevent them from being cheated of what is rightfully theirs.
The show dedicated to mathematics is also going to have three segments apart from Arya Bhatta. This includes My Mathematics Stories, Atta Patta and Question of the Day. About 500 domestic workers are all set to share their mathematics story in the segment, My Mathematics Story. Atta Patta, will feature “Rani”, the dog solving mathematics puzzles through storytelling and games along with Lavanya and Priyanka. It is set in the studio of Radio Active and takes into cognizance three friends, Priyanka, Lavanya and Rani. These friends have come together to learn mathematics in their free time. The objective of the programme is to inspire listeners to understand mathematics in a light atmosphere. Hopefully, these programmes would be a precursor to many more such attempts.