Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) has been implementing 10th batch of the fellowship program with promising and potential grassroots Dalit youth and youth women at the local level to reduce the voice poverty through the participation in community media and engage in the process of benefiting Dalits and disadvantaged communities in government relief and medical services and social safety net program with support from Free Press Unlimited.

A three-month (June-August 2020) long program has been implementing with the support of Free Press Unlimited. 18 Dalit and disadvantaged youth and youth women including the representative of the Transgender have been involved in the program from 9 community radio broadcasting areas to develop skills in community media journalism.

The Fellows are currently broadcasting audio-visual reports through community radio and social media as well as upload on the Facebook about the benefits allocated under the government relief and medical services and social safety net programs to protect the rights and improve the quality of life of their respective communities through regular contact and follow-up with concerned departments and agencies which is helping the people to enjoy their rights.

The fellows are working under the direct supervision of an experienced radio broadcasters to acquire knowledge and skills on radio and social media, especially Facebook, as well as pre and post-broadcast activities such as data collection (Vox-pop and interviewing, scriptwriting) Audio and Video capturing, Editing, Presentation, Console Machine Operation, and News Reading, etc. to develop as a broadcaster. Besides, they are also learning the art of preparing news/features/reports for publication in local newspapers and online news portals.

The Fellows of 10th batch and associated/concerned community radio stations are- Md. Shakil Ahmed, Md. Rezaul Karim (Radio Nalta, Satkhira), Nasrin Jahan Riya (Radio Lokbetar, Barguna); Soma Das, and Tama Majumdar (Radio Sagargiri, Sitakunda); Fatima Tuj Johra, and Md. Azim Ali (Radio Mahananda, Chapainawabganj); Md. Tanvir Ahmed Siddiqui, Hanifa Khatun, and Synthia Islam (Radio Mukti, Bagura); Rima Akter, Md. Saidur Rahman and Md. Mainul Islam (Radio Krishi, Barguna); Jasmine Begum and Sharmin Begum (Radio Meghna, Bhola); Shobha Rani and Shri Sujan Chandra Das (Radio Sarabela, Gaibandha) and Mausumi Das and Minhazul Islam (Radio Baral, Rajshahi).

Meanwhile, a news item on the radio’s Facebook page was published by Fellow Riya Akhter, who works at Krishi Radio in June. The news came to the notice of the Australian expatriate citizen of Amtoli Dr. Asim Kumar Sajjan. Later, with his financial support, through a local development organization, a total of 15 families of local Gipsy, blacksmiths, hairdressers, and Transgenders received 20 kg of rice per month at the rate of 5 BDT. This facility will continue for the next 6 months. At the local level, the current market price of rice is BDT 45 per kg. The Beneficiary families are getting that rice only 5 BDT. According to him, 15 families will get food assistance for the next 6 months at a total cost of Tk 72,000 (40-taka 20 kg 6 months 15 families) equivalent to 848 US dollars.

Assistance in disseminating news reports of the Fellows through Fellowship activities and influencing the local power structure through regular communication and follow-up. Though Community media fellow’s reporting lobby advocacy 3314 Community people have achieved service from Government’s Social Safety Net Program which is worth 2,71,89,800 BDT equivalent to 319,880 US dollars to date.

The Fellowship Program for Dalit Youth and Youth women in Community Media has been playing a significant role in achieving Sustainable Development Goal-10 (Reduce Inequality).

The fellowship program is also contributing to achieve the 4 strategic objectives for amplifying dalits voices;

Increasing the human capacity of Dalit Youth and Youth women:

As the Fellows come from the local Dalit and disadvantaged communities, they can easily provide information on various important issues in their reports according to the needs of their community. Besides, it highlights the hopes and aspirations of the local people, happiness and sorrow, and cultural issues. Meanwhile, 5 women fellows received various national awards including the Meena Award by UNICEF for bringing the stories of their joys and sorrows in the language of the local people.

Increasing the economic benefits of Dalit youth and youth women:

Working in radio through fellowships, the Dalit youth and youth women are getting employment as well as social recognition as a broadcaster. At present, there are 46 youth and youth women are working in community radio (as producers, associate producers, news editors, joint news editors, reporters, presenters). Not only that, but many of the Fellows are also now working efficiently in various government and non-government organizations, including the mainstream media, using the experience of working in local radio.

Increasing the access, voices and representation to media of Dalit women:

In almost every radio station, Dalit and disadvantaged women of the community are working as their workers and volunteers. In addition to male colleagues, women are building their careers by working in parallel on radios. The women of the disadvantaged communities in the rural areas, who once had the fear of technology, are now operating a variety of radio station equipment. Becoming literate and skilled on the computer. They are operating community radio station consoles, capturing, editing, and presenting audio-video. As a result, male dependence in the station is decreasing and gender inequality between men and women is reducing.

Creating a supportive environment for the development of Dalit youth and youth women:

Dalit women are getting social recognition through fellowship. Special interest has been created in the families about them; the perception of common people is changing. Even the apathy or negative attitude towards the fellows as representatives of the Dalit community in the early days of radio stations and among other radio broadcasters has completely disappeared and eliminated.

It is to be noted here that under this program, a total of 159 local youth and youth women have received fellowships in journalism in 9 batches of 16 community radios in different periods. Of these, 112 came from the Dalit community.

Above all, in recognition of the success of the Fellowship program, the “Fellowship for Youth and Youth Women in Community Media and Journalism” project has won the World Summit on Information Society Award (WSIS Prize) 2016 organized by the United Nations.

Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) has been struggling for the last 20 years for opening up and strengthening the community media sector including Community Radio and giving focus on its vital role as voices of the voiceless rural people from 2000.



Policy Research Fellow, Shaping the Future of Media, Information & Culture in the Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution(4th IR)

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Ahm Bazlur Rahman

Policy Research Fellow, Shaping the Future of Media, Information & Culture in the Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution(4th IR)