Cambodia has the youngest population in Southeast Asia. About 30 per cent of the population is aged 15 to 30, making youth the major force for development in the country.
Youth participation and engagement is vital for a democratic country like Cambodia. However, the social participation and civic knowledge of young Cambodians are still very limited.
The UNDP baseline study, titled ‘Youth Civic Participation in Cambodia: Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices, and Media (2010)’, highlights such problems. Just three-quarters of the youth interviewed have heard of “Parliament” and two-thirds did not know the function of Parliament. In addition, only 28% knew the meaning of the word “democracy”, while just 6% read newspapers or magazines. 77% watched television.
Moreover, the report found that participation levels were low (8%) when measured in terms of youth voicing their opinions to public officials, either to government or NGOs.
A peaceful, prosperous and equitable future for Cambodia depends on motivating and harnessing the creative energy of young people by providing and encouraging diverse opportunity for civic participation.
Therefore, the BBC Media Action, sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), initiated a multimedia campaign called Loy9 to serve as a channel to deliver civic education in a more entertaining and youthful way and to model all kinds of participation to inspire a diverse and dynamic youth population across Cambodia.
Loy9 is a slang used mainly by young Cambodians when they see something done really well or “just awesome”. The campaign includes drama, TV magazine, radio call-in programs, public service announcements and online and mobile phone messaging. Loy9 provides young people with the vital facts they need in order to participate in civil society, and to reassure their families that getting involved in their community is a positive, not a dangerous, thing to do.
Loy9 TV was aired at prime time (Sunday 8pm) on CTN, the most popular TV channel in Cambodia. It featured young, active and talented citizens with bright ideas, debates, and news. The first series was aired from January to May 2012 and will resume early 2013. According to CTN, Loy9 episodes drew audiences of well over two million a week.
Loy9 also has a drama series featuring a young rural woman who develops an interest in filmmaking when her former schoolmate returns to their village for a film competition. The young woman finds a way with her friends to express ideas about the village and how young villagers will deal with the unexpected obstacles in their path.
Every Saturday lunch time, Loy9 is on a live radio show joined by two presenters and a guest speaker discussing various topics. The audience can phone in and join the discussion. With its 12 relay towers in the provinces, FM 103 is estimated to reach about 70 per cent of Cambodia’s population.
The show also features online—website (www.loy9.com.kh) and a very active Facebook page— and print access and even live games. It is an opportunity for young people to provide ideas, enter competitions and even appear on TV and radio.
Now, the TV crews are in the process of planning and shooting series two of the show. Meanwhile, the radio, van and online teams are very active in providing content and finding ways to engage with the audience.
“Series two will have even higher production standards as our teams learn even more about producing BBC-quality content. But it will also be even more interactive and participative than series one,” said Mr. Colin Spurway, the Project Director for Loy9.
Loy9 will maintain the same basic format, yet audience can surely expect many new great things and opportunities from the show.