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Ethnic minorities in Ratanakkiri take crash course in radio

Ethnic minorities in Ratanakkiri take crash course in radio

090616_04.jpg
090616_04.jpg

Members of the Prov community are trying their hand at radio, in a programme aimed at opening up media to minority groups.

Photo by: PHOTO SUPPLIED

An FM 89.5 radio employee talks to a local Kreung woman in Ratanakkiri province, asking for feedback on their broadcasts.

FIVE members of the Prov ethnic minority from Laos arrived Monday in Ratanakkiri for a radio training course, taking advantage of a pioneering programme that seeks to give traditionally marginalised communities access to and control over local media.

"[The training course is good] because we get to exchange experiences with each other about making radio programmes for ethnic communities and discuss what happens in Prov communities," said Hout Vuthy, UNESCO's technical expert for Cambodia.

For two years, FM 89.5 has been broadcasting in local minority languages in Ratanakkiri province, and its training courses have been slowly expanding. Since its inception, 22 ethnic minority Cambodians have been trained to broadcast in their local languages.

The Prov ethnic group lives in both Laos and Ratanakkiri, and the visiting Prov groups are able to communicate in the same language with those in Cambodia.

"We started the programme for ethnic minority groups in 2007, when our radio station started. There are many ethnic minorities in Ratanakkiri, and they have never had a chance to get information or be educated through the media before, so I had the idea to produce programmes to educate them," said Uy Sothy, the office director of the station said Sunday.

"I produced many programmes related to HIV/AIDS, land disputes, domestic violence, and drugs and human trafficking by making dramas in their own language. It's easy for them to listen because most of them can understand more in their own language [than Khmer]," he said, adding that his station airs three times a day.

A familiar tongue

Hoeun Chanroth, 19, from the Prov community in Ratanakkiri, said local language programming has exposed him to information he would never normally receive.

"I never knew about HIV/AIDS and how to protect myself from it, but after listening to the radio broadcast, I know a little," he said.

Hout Vuthy said the funding for the radio programme comes from the Asian Development Bank and UNESCO as part of a poverty-reduction project. He said the expansion of community radio in local languages is critical to ensuring ethnic minorities are not exploited due to their lack of education and knowledge about the mainstream legal system.

"The radio programme ... is important because when they listen they know how to protect themselves and their children from cheating or trafficking. ... They know more about the situation in their province and society, even though they cannot read," he said.

There are 13 different ethnic minorities in Ratanakkiri, including the Phnong, Prov, Kroeng and Jarai, totalling more than 130,000 people, according to Hout Vuthty.

Hoeun Chanroth said he wished the station could broadcast more often in Prov.

"It broadcasts for too short a time," he said, adding that he hopes to one day run his own native Prov language programme.

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