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Radio City aims to teach spoken English to three million street kids

MUMBAI: Radio network Radio City 91.1FM has partnered with cycle candy vendors to create pop-up English schools across Dharavi and like slum areas. Radio reaches more than 99 per cent of India where approximately 30 million children live in slums. Candy vendors on bicycles who visit slum dwellings daily have been provided FM receivers and megaphones and have been incentivised to park their cycles in specific localities every week at a certain time. During these time bands, Radio City 91.1FM is airing specially designed lessons on spoken English. Candy being a natural draw for the kids, all the vendors have to do is tune in to Radio City on their FM receivers at the designated time slot, play the on-air English lesson and hand out free candy to every kid who sits through it.

Initiated in the slums of Mumbai, the network looks to scale the program up to 10 cities to begin with. In a country where the knowledge of English is an economic enabler, Radio City looks to use their reach to broadcast primary lessons in spoken English.

Radio City 91.1FM CEO Abraham Thomas said, “Candy Class is an ambitious project and we have rolled out the first phase. Dharavi, as one of Mumbai’s largest slums, seemed to be the right place to start our efforts to give back to Mumbai in a special way under the ambit of Rag Rag Mein Daude City. Using the power and reach of radio to make a difference to the lives of these children might help them gather a lifeskill that they might not otherwise have been fortunate enough to get”.

Radio City has launched a promotional campaign to stimulate this initiative and will follow up with on-ground promotions and special activities for children conducted in slum settlements by radio jockeys and other personnel. The idea for Candy Class was developed in partnership with GREY group India and looks to impact 3,000,000 children nationally. ACORN Foundation India, affiliated to ACORN International, is partnering on the activity in order to help build a sustainable model to popularise and scale up this project in Dharavi.

“What’s really interesting is the way this initiative brings together the power of radio with the cycle candy vendors for a common purpose. Candy Class is not elaborate, does not require huge infrastructure and investments, yet is incredible when you consider the economic and social implications of speaking the language in a country such as ours”, opined Grey group India chief creative officer Sandipan Bhattacharya.