Comic Relief

16th March 2001 at 00:00
With Comic Relief starting today, it's a good time to raise global awareness in the classroom. But while such events do focus on some of the issues that affect developing countries, they often come with a Western perspective.

Although the net is held up as a truly global phenomenon, much of the content is dominated by North America and Western Europe.

Since the digital divide is probably going to get wider, it will be up to Western organisations to give ordinary people a voice, and the US's Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has made a valiant effort to do just that.

Last month it broadcast the documentary Hopes on the Horizon, which was produced by the independent production company Blackside Inc. It looks at African men and women who risked their lives to fight for social and political freedoms in the latter part ofthe 20th century. Men and women from Benin, Nigeria, Rwanda, Morocco, Mozambique and South Africa give their personal accounts alongside rarely seen archive footage.

For those who can't wait for the programme to appear on a late-night, mid-week showing on Channel 4 sometime next year, there's an excellent website to accompany the programme. PBS is noted for its online companion presentations and Hopes on the Horizon is no exception.

The website, at www.pbs.orghopes, features video clips from the original broadcast, streaming audio of a radio programme produced in South Africa, discussion groups, interviews, essays, teacher's notes and website links. While it probably lacks the immediacy of the original programme, it is an excellent resource and a fine example of how to produce useful multi-media programming.

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