13.02.2017 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

Radio in Rwanda Provides a Platform for Public Participation

Sinabubariga Ildephonse, MD, Radio Ishingiro, Rwanda and Muganwa Gonzaga, Executive Secretary of Rwanda Journalists Associations

13th February 2017 marks the beginning of celebrating the World Radio Day in Rwanda. The event held under the theme Public participation: “Radio is You!, raised both excitement and curiosity among many citizens in Rwanda, who were eager to understand why radio was being celebrated globally. “For the first time, today we join the rest of the world to celebrate Radio in Rwanda, an easily accessible platform that provides a chance for all citizens to join public debates, regardless of their level of education and in a language they can understand” said Rev. Uwimana Jean Pierre Emmanuel, Vice Chairman of the Board of Rwanda Media Commission during the opening session of the 2017 World Radio Day celebrations in Kigali.

Organised by the Rwanda Media Commission (RMC) and the Rwanda Community Radio Network (RCRN), in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and with the financial support of the Government of Sweden, the celebrations brought together media stakeholders from Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda comprised of electronic and print media representatives, the academia from journalism institutions, senior representatives from the Government of Rwanda, Rwanda journalists association, Media High Council and development partners including representatives from the Embassy of Sweden in Rwanda and UNESCO.

”Radio gives voice to women and men everywhere. It listens to audiences and responds to needs. It is a force for human rights and dignity and a powerful enabler of solutions to the challenges all societies face” said Peter Wallet, the UNESCO programme Coordinator for Rwanda while presenting the UNESCO’s message for 2017 World Radio Day. This message was echoed by the Rwanda Governance Board Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Usta Kayitesi, who urged the radio stations in Rwanda to ensure they broadcast diverse content and learn from the past, to inform the present and future on the role of the radio in Rwanda. “You need to reflect the role radio in Rwanda has played in the past, presently and what role it should play in the future” Dr. Kayitesi said while speaking at the celebrations for the 2017 World Radio Day in Rwanda.

Sharing good practices from the region on how radio provides a platform for public participation, a panel discussion was held on the Role of the Radio in promoting public participation: challenges and opportunities. It made reference to the role of the UNESCO Freedom of Expression Toolkit, which has been translated into Kinyarwanda, aimed at enabling the citizens to understand how they should responsibly express themselves through the media platforms. “Clearly written policies and the in-house style guide our operations to make the radio very inclusive and gender sensitive. The policy is also very clear on how much a program host talks in the program and how much time is dedicated to have other voices in the programs’’ said Jane Angom from 89.5 SPEAK FM based in Northern Uganda while contributing to the panel discussion.

Considering the important role the radio plays as an enabler and driver of the diversity of cultural expressions and ensuring that they are accessible to all, UNESCO also hosted a cocktail to dialogue with the media stakeholders on the role of radio in Rwanda in promoting diversity, the gaps and opportunities. Through a panel discussion on the role of the media in promoting Cultural diversity, the media and culture stakeholders in Rwanda discussed the need to ensure the programming in radio stations is inclusive of the voices of the artists, cultural professionals, civil society actors and local/national listeners as a way of ensuring diverse local content is available in the Rwandan media. “Our culture is what differentiates us from other people and we should promote it through our media outlets to avoid generational gaps” reiteriated Sinaburariraga Iidephonse, the managing Drector of Radio Ishingiro during the panel discussion.

World Radio Day is a global event that is marked on the 13th of February every year. Following a UNESCO proposal, it was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2012 to coincide with the anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Radio in 1946. This day is celebrated to raise awareness of the importance of the radio and how it positively impacts on millions of lives every day. It is also a day to celebrate radio as a medium of communication, to improve international cooperation among broadcasters and to encourage major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information and freedom of expression.




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