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Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) Improves Indian Student Learning

Archana Nambiar

Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) is the use of radio to bring curriculum and teacher training to classrooms – a tremendous resource for learning and dissemination. IRI, which only requires a radio and an adult facilitator, reaches large numbers of teachers and learners who are isolated by distance and poor infrastructure. It can be used in almost any setting, from formal classrooms to community learning centers to outdoor venues.

As part of the dot-EDU India Technology Tools for Teaching and Training (T4) project funded by USAID, Education Development Center (EDC) uses IRI to improving the quality of education at the elementary level in seven states in India, namely, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Delhi. The project has been active in India since October 2003 and aids education systems in India in attaining goals set forth by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

In T4, the Interactive Radio Instruction Program (IRI) has been found to have significant impact on improving student learning gains. Evaluation studies have indicated that IRI has an impact on the Comprehension and Speaking skills as well as the Math, EVS and Social Science knowledge. T4 has also been consistently building the capacities of teachers to engage students in effective and joyful learning.

Components of Interactive Radio Instruction Program

Working closely with the State governments, T4 develops IRI programs in a variety of subjects based on the curriculum and targeting the needs defined by teachers themselves. The IRI lessons engage students through local stories, songs and physical activities, while supporting teachers to develop student-centered teaching skills.

Group Teaching & Learning (GTL) Multimedia Software
The GTL software brings teachers and students together to conduct interactive activities around a single computer. The software allows students to focus on difficult science concepts in greater depth by providing over 10 hours of games and group activities. Students explore various science topics through a rich combination of learning resources for use both on and off the computer – songs, IRI programs, lesson plans, videos and quizzes. Current GTL titles include: “Animal Discovery”, “Ecosystems and Habitats”, “Sanitation and Hygiene Learning Game”, “What is Disease” and “Fun with Geometry”. An additional title on Physics is under production.

Digital Library (DL)
Hosted by the National Informatics Center (NIC) Karnataka, the DL is an on-line searchable catalog of learning materials in audio, video and print formats. The DL allows teachers to access all T4 learning materials as well as those produced by many government and private/public sector providers. Resources are available in English, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Oriya languages. The DL helps ensure that educational materials developed by international and national organizations and donors remain widely accessible.

Life Skill Audios
A series of interactive audio programs is being developed on selected “skills for life” topics geared towards middle-school youth as well as their teachers and parents. The underlying goals of the pilot series will be to “apply skills” “extend concepts” and “make connections”. The series will seek to reinforce skills already imparted by the other T4 media products (i.e., collaboration and cooperation, the scientific method etc) and extend it by bringing in new content relevant to middle-school academics, personal development and career planning. The presentation of drama/activity-based audio segments coupled with in-class/out-of class activities will be innovative and unprecedented.

Life Skill Videos
The ten-episode, live-action series of life skills-themed fiction targets middle school-age youth in India. This series targets its audience with a plot, storyline and characters to which they can relate—full of the ups and downs of adolescence and the very real challenges youth face at home and at school. As they watch the characters encounter and learn from their trials and tribulations, they will find new and constructive ways to deal with their own life challenges.

Multimedia kits
The multimedia kit is aimed at higher primary schools targeting classes 6 to 8th. It aims at improving the learning gains in students as well improving the classroom transaction of teachers. It will comprise audio (cassettes or CDs) and video (cassettes or DVDs) materials that would be used off the air and supported by print guides. The off-air mode allows for pauses and repetitions while at the same not saturating the airwaves. The audio is being designed as a stand alone product, to enable teachers and students who may not have access to video technology to still benefit fully from the package The topics that are currently under production include Food, Cells, Numbers, Light and Force and Motion.


T4 has already developed over 600 technology products designed to enhance student learning in Grades 1-5, complemented by extensive teacher training and monitoring. T4 project has been reaching out to 42 million students across 300,000 schools in eight partner states.

  • Grade 1 and 2 Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) learners in Rajasthan performed 12% higher on English speaking tests than students receiving traditional instruction.
  • Grade 3 and 4 IRI students in Madhya Pradesh performed 24% higher on English speaking tests than their non-IRI peers.
  • Grades 4 and 5 IRI learners in Madhya Pradesh perform 13% higher in math, 8% higher in General Studies, and 10% higher in Social Studies than non-IRI students.
  • Students using T4’s Group Teaching and Learning multimedia software in Grades 4-6 perform an average of 9% higher than students receiving traditional instruction in Science topics such as Animal Discovery, Habitats and Ecosystems and What Is Disease?

IRI may have the greatest impact for the most underserved: Scheduled Caste IRI students in Rajasthan outperformed non-IRI students of the same caste by 8.3 points in English speaking tests and Other Backward Class students outperformed their peers by 14.2 points.

4 Responses to “Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) Improves Indian Student Learning”

  1. Looking around the Internets for more information on Interactive Radio Instruction, I've found these gems:

    Improving Educational Quality through Interactive Radio Instruction – A Toolkit for Policymakers and Planners

    This toolkit is intended for African policymakers, education planners, and pedagogical specialists who may be considering the feasibility of using IRI in their education systems. Although, as is documented in the appendixes, considerable use had been made of IRI in Africa, there has been relatively little application of it in francophone countries.

    Southern Sudan Interactive Radio Instruction

    SSIRI is an integrated program of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Southern Sudan. It is funded by USAID, United States Agency for International Development, and administered by EDC, Education Development Center. SSIRI focuses on the effective use of radio for delivering high-quality education programs to children, youth and adults

    Improving Teaching Quality in Guinea with Interactive Radio Instruction – infoDev Working Paper

    Guinea's Sous le Fromager project is an excellent example of radio as an effective delivery system for enhancing teachers’ basic content skills and for helping teachers with little or no instructional skills acquire those skills.

    Evaluating large-scale interactive radio programmes

    This article focuses on the challenges involved in conducting evaluations of interactive radio programmes in South Africa with large numbers of schools, teachers, and learners. It focuses on the role such large-scale evaluation has played during the South African radio learning programme's development stage, as well as during its subsequent sustained implementation phase.

  2. Thomas G. Nielsen

    Interactive radio instruction (IRI) programmes can be a very cost-effective way to provide quality educational services, especially to communities in remote and hard-to-access areas. But like for any other education service, the service quality has to be high to ensure the knowledge transfer to students (and teachers).

    It is also important to integrate local radio stations in the programme activities to build a local knowledge base and to maintain the local interest in the educational service (in places where there might not be a formally paid teacher or proper school buildings).

    This is my experience having worked in 2005-06 with the Zambian Interactive Radio Instruction programme called "Taonga Market".

    The IRI programme in Zambia originally was started to service communities with no formal teachers or school buildings. But it was such an educational success that it was later introduced to formal government schools.

  3. I know that is really boring and you’re skipping to the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks – you cleared up some issues for me!


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