Community Radio Continuous Improvement Toolkit

The Community Radio Continuous Improvement Toolkit (CR-CIT) developed by the UNESCO Chair on Community Media, University of Hyderabad with support provided by the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCAhas been published and released and is now available in the public domain (download from CR-CIT or CR-CIT).

The CR Continuous Improvement toolkit provides an easy to use and adapt framework that allows CR stations to periodically assess themselves on their performance. The toolkit has been drafted keeping in view: (a) the national community radio policy guidelines (in India) which have several mandatory provisions; and (b) certain non-negotiable principles of community media globally, such as community participation and ownership, access and inclusion to marginalised groups, gender equity, community-generated content, emphasis on local cultures and identities, and transparency and accountability in practice.

The toolkit provides for indicators of performance along nine broad parameters:

1.      Content Generation and Programming

2.      Policies and Guidelines

3.      Volunteers

4.      Technology: Access and Management

5.      On-Air Standards of Broadcasting

6.      Governance

7.      Feedback and Grievances

8.      Content Sharing and Networking

9.      Revenue Generation and Financial Accountability

Themes such as participation, inclusion, gender, capacity building, etc. have been treated as core principles that cut across all the nine parameters.

This toolkit focuses on principles, practices, and processes. Impact of the CR station on the community is outside the purview of this toolkit. This is primarily to help stations reflect on to what extent their everyday practices and policies are in tune with the larger philosophy and best practices of community radio.

The toolkit has been developed through a participatory process, adopting the ‘Continuous Improvement’ framework that has been used in various other sectors, including management and higher education.

Continuous improvement, in this context, is being conceptualised as ongoing efforts to improve broadcast content as well as processes of production and management of the CR station.

Many scholars and practitioners of participatory development are today suggesting that community-based initiatives should be able to set their own benchmarks or goals against which they could review their performance periodically. This is a process that is participatory, flexible, and realistic. It is an approach that foregrounds unequal power relations, gender inequity, and elite monopoly over media production.

The entire process of developing this continuous improvement toolkit for community radio is conceptualised within Edward Brantmeier’s co-learning paradigm incorporating key principles such as: peer learning, reciprocal value of knowledge-sharers, mutual trust, and collective and individual meaning-making.

While the workshops and other such events we have organised as part of this process could help, in the short term, in the formulation of certain self-defined guideposts in the journey of community radio practitioners, the medium to long-term goal is to facilitate the forging of a community of practice. The “community of practice,” as we understand from the work of Wenger, McDermott and Snyder, is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact with each other regularly.

For a more detailed report on the CR-CIT and how it was developed see CR-CIT Report.