The Education Development Center in Bolivia is developing and testing a new application for interactive radio instruction (IRI) to teach health in primary schools. The project is funded by USAID and has been undertaken to help the Bolivian government include health education in primary schools as part of a strategy to reduce child mortality. Each radio health program will be broadcast weekly for school children in twenty-minute segments. The broadcasts and complementary post-broadcast activities will give special emphasis to child survival topics such as oral rehydration therapy and nutrition. Special features include IRI scripts which simulate interaction between the radio teacher and the students, new topics introduced in a systematic way engaging students in problem-solving activities, and extensive oral and written student participation. Complementary IRI program materials will include take-home exercises designed to involve family participation, and teachers' guides to provide teachers with practical hands-on activities to strengthen children's understanding of basic health concepts. Short, in-service training sessions will prepare teachers to facilitate radio classes and carry out post-broadcast activities with students. The potential of IRI to improve student and teacher understanding of health and nutrition is only beginning to be recognized.
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