Title:Knowledge sharing synthesis paper:communications in education
F. Hunt
Publisher: Development Communications Evidence Research Network, 2007

This report provides evidence of the role of communications in education and identifies where it has been successful and where it can still be improved. The paper focuses on spaces for communication and communication initiatives. It gives examples of a range of communication initiatives in education, the processes of communications and the direct and indirect impacts.

The study is a desk-based review of documentation available about the spaces, processes and impacts of communications in the formal education sector. Documentation reviewed included academic articles; development reports; advocacy papers; newspaper articles; theses; and website content.

The study makes a number of key practical points around spaces, processes and impacts of communications in education:

  • providing channels and spaces for communications in education offers prospects for engagement and participation by stakeholders, many of whom are frequently excluded from such opportunities
  • providing information to communities about educational services can encourage public participation in education activities
  • there are various ways of communicating to people and different people have different abilities to access communication channels and spaces. Factors influencing access might include levels of literacy, access to ICTs and perceived demand. Communicators need to take this into account when planning and developing communication strategies and spaces
  • communication channels and spaces can exclude the most marginalised. NGOs and CSOs can mediate these exclusions and highlight those voices in national and international debate
  • broadcast media (especially radio) can be an effective means to provide educational inputs to certain communities with restricted access to more formal/traditional schooling options.

The report makes the following conclusions:

  • while communication constantly takes place in education, there is a limited recording of these communication processes and impacts
  • measuring the impact of communications in education is difficult because of the multiplicity of causal factors at play. Studies on impact of communications and education, rarely account for these complexities
  • education may learn from communications approaches and initiatives in other sectors e.g. health, where there appears to be a significant focus on communications and more innovative practice.