VOA Children’s Poetry Program

A VOA Pashto language children’s poetry program is getting credit for encouraging young people to go to school in the volatile Pakistan-Afghan border region.

The Deewa radio program, Jump Jump Camel, is the first such international Pashto broadcast.  It went on the air earlier this year.

The weekly program airs children songs from the well-known Pashto musician and singer, Sardar Ali, who collects poems from the region that stem from oral tradition. He composes music and sings the rhymes over the air.

Through his work, Ali has become an icon on the Pashto music scene. He says the music inspires both boys and girls in the region.  He believes that as an artist, music is his tool to exert a positive influence.

“Without music, it’s just regular talk to them,” he says. “When you attract people to go to school they will get an education so they will automatically go away from all of this [violence].”

The chief of VOA’s Deewa Radio and television section, Nafees Takar, says, “Most of the rhymes are full of messages of education and positive contributions to the society.”

He says the music and rhymes give a sense of peace and normalcy in a region where children are often exposed to violence, including extremist attacks on schools and attempts to recruit young people as potential suicide attackers.

“The feedback is tremendous,” said Takar. “Parents have called into the VOA Deewa live talk shows, appreciating the initiative.”

He said mothers have told the program that the rhymes of the VOA Deewa Service have generated excitement about learning and encouraged their children to go to school on their own, without having their parents having to press them to attend.

The program airs weekly, but one poem of special importance goes on the air five days a week at 7 a.m. Pakistani time. Parents say some children rush to get ready for school in the morning so they can hear the special rhyme.

For more information on program, visit VOA’s Pashto page at http://www.pashtovoa.com/

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