Auteur / Author : Arvind Singhal, Karen Greiner, Sarah Hurlburt ONLINE
Titre / Title : A Participatory Assessment of Ashreat Al Amal, an Entertainment-Education Radio Soap Opera, in the Sudan
Collection / Series :
Editeur / Publisher : School of Communication Studies, Ohio University, USA EN
Année / Year : 2006   Nbr. Pages :      27 pages / 862 Kb     Taille / Size


Evaluation / Book review.

This 27-page report documents the results of a participatory assessment exercise, comprising of participatory sketching and participatory photography, conducted in Sudan to gauge how avid listeners of Ashreat Al Amal ("Sails of Hope"), an entertainment-education (E-E) radio soap opera produced by Population Media Center, derived personal meaning from its plot, characters, and educational messages. Ashreat Al Amal’s educational purposes, at the time of conception, were multi-fold: To promote (1) a more equal status for women, (2) family planning, (3) HIV/AIDS prevention, and (4) delayed marriage and pregnancy. During the development of the programme, however, PMC-Sudan identified two additional issues as being vitally important: To promote (5) awareness about the dangers of khitan (female circumcision), and reduce the prevalence of this widespread practice, and (6) a healthy civic lifestyle free of substance (drug and alcohol) abuse, thievery, and domestic and street violence. The plot of Ashreat Al Amal was designed around several intersecting storylines, each centered on an educational objective. Patterned after the Sabido methodology, storylines were delineated by a set of positive, negative, and transitional role models.
According to the report, there was high listenership among the intended audience (women of reproductive age). Data gathered from clinic clients in 2005 indicated that between 29% and 39% of clinic clients listened to Ashreat al Amal. There was a consistent increase over the project period in the percentage of the population who believe that female circumcision should be abandoned (from 28.6% to 65.4%). Listeners were over 2.5 times more likely to have discussed HIV/AIDS with their partners than pre-broadcast survey respondents. While statistics provide information on the scope of the drama's influence, participatory sketching and photography show how people personally related to and comprehended the intersecting storylines of abandoning female genital cutting, empowering women, and seeking safe motherhood and childhood.

According to the report, participatory sketching and photography have emerged as novel, audience-centered, and low-cost qualitative methodologies for assessing the meanings that audiences derive from E-E programmes. The participants were encouraged to draw whatever they wanted, regardless of their drawing ability, and no rigid time limits were set in order to not rush them. This participatory sketching activity with 55 respondents yielded a total of 73 drawings. To further assess the effects of Ashreat Al Amal, 14 of the 55 respondents took part in a participatory photography exercise. The images and photos provided a starting point for discussing the drama.

The respondents’ sketches and photos suggest that avid listeners of the programme comprehended the various intersecting plotlines of Ashreat Al Amal, could accurately describe the qualities of its main characters, and, in so doing, could articulate its various educational messages. According to the report, the respondents’ sketches also suggest various degrees of emotional and personal resonance with the key plotlines and characterisations. The female circumcision situations and their outcomes (including severe bleeding, permanent injury, and even death) held the most personal meaning for both male and female respondents as it closely paralleled their lived realities. Many of the respondents freely and openly shared the debilitating consequences of large families, and called for more understanding, harmony, and support from their husbands. Many emphasised the importance of staying away from cigarettes, drugs, and criminal activities.

In summary, respondents’ sketches and photos, and their accompanying narratives, suggest that listening to Ashreat Al Amal affected audiences' lives in various ways. Listeners emphasised that they learned about, or were reinforced in, the following: the importance of (1) abandoning female circumcision, (2) giving girls more control of their reproductive health, (3) having a small family, and (4) staying away from vices likes drugs and alcohol. The researchers concluded that, through the use of participatory photography and sketching, they were able to hand over the means of visual production to “the oppressed, the silent, and the muted.” As such, respondents were able to further engage with the process, while at the same time providing researchers with valuable insights that may not have emerged through oral means alone.

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