Entertainment Education



Every year, the World Bank and client governments invest millions in behavior-change campaigns across almost all development sectors. However, many of these campaigns are unconvincing, lack inspiring narratives, and are communicated through outmoded and uninteresting outlets such as billboards and leaflets. Systematic reviews of these campaigns from risky sexual behavior to handwashing consistently show little or no effect on behavior, especially in the long term.

There is an unprecedented opportunity to use entertainment media to change the lives of billions of people, especially in urban areas.[1] Entertainment education or edutainment can be a game-changer for development. Unlike traditional behavior-change campaigns that convey abstract concepts and can become repetitive quickly, educational narratives are easier to follow and remember than abstract information. Characters in mass media have the power to be role models, inspire audiences to engage in new thinking about “what is possible”, and change the perception of what is “normal” and socially acceptable behavior.

The 2015 and 2016 World Development Reports respectively highlighted the untapped potential of entertainment education and mass media in development practice. However, the evidence base regarding the effectiveness of entertainment media remains thin, especially to advise the scale up of entertainment media as a development tool across different sectors. There is a lot to learn about the best way to maximize the impact and minimize unintended consequences of entertainment media, a powerful tool that is largely untapped for development.  DIME is starting to expand this evidence base with ongoing experimental evaluations that explore the relative effectiveness of radio spots versus printed narratives to promote adoption of solar lanterns in rural Senegal; the use of a Nollywood (the Nigerian film industry) movie to promote financial savings, and of the MTV Shuga drama to reduce risky sex and gender-based violence in Nigeria.

[1] While access to TV and radio is almost universal in developing countries, consumption of internet entertainment is prevalent in urban areas.  According to the 2016 World Development Report, last year there were 3.2 billion Internet users in the world and 8.8 billion Youtube videos were watched every day.

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2017

DIME Entertainment Program Impact

A Multi-Sectoral Program

The Entertainment-Education program was launched in May 2016 to explore the use of entertainment-education and, more generally, how mass media behavior-change campaigns can be designed to change perceptions of social norms, achieve adoption, and sustain healthier behaviors.  A multi-sectorial tool, the knowledge agenda of the first phase, focuses on edutainment applications to promote social-norms shifting and behavior change in reproductive health, gender equality, early years education, water and hygiene, and violence prevention, including gender-based violence. Thus, it aims to contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3 - Good Health and Well-being, 4 - Quality Education, 5 - Gender Equality, 16 - Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, and, more broadly, of SDGs 1 - No poverty.

Impact evaluation studies being implemented or planned explore topics like: the use of a Nollywood movie to promote financial savings among entrepreneurs (SDG 1); the impacts of the MTV Shuga drama on risky sexual behavior and gender-based violence (SDG 3, SDG 5, and SDG 16); the use of social-norms campaigns to encourage families to enroll girls in primary school (SDG 4 and SDG 5); the relative effectiveness of radio spots versus printed narratives to promote adoption of solar lanterns in rural areas (SDG 7); the impacts of including entertainment education in in-school life-skills programs to reduce bullying and to prevent drug and alcohol consumption among young people (SDG 3 and SDG 16).

This new program is being rolled out in the major entertainment hubs of the world and is supported by different Bank units and leading media houses and research centers of edutainment from the “Hollywoods” of the world, including MTV Staying Alive Foundation, USC Hollywood Health & Society, UCLA Global Media Center, Children's Film Society of India, the Asian Center for Entertainment Education, and the TV networks Televisa (Mexico) and Rede Globo (Brazil).

The impact evaluations of the first phase also address important questions regarding the indirect or spillover effects of mass media on community members that may have heard about the program messages through their friends; as well as the role that social networks have in disseminating and magnifying potential impacts.  Finally, the impact evaluations also study how best to reinforce edutainment messages through new interactive technologies, from mobile messaging to social media outlets to videogames. 

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2017

DIME “Narrating Behavior Change” Workshop

The official launch of the “Narrating Behavior Change” program took place during a DIME impact-evaluation workshop, jointly conducted with the Inter-American Development Bank. The event brought together 22 project teams from Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia, and producers and researchers from leading media organizations and universities to design the next generation of impact evaluations of entertainment media and behavior-change campaigns. The workshop outlined the evidence base and knowledge priorities and through clinics, allowed project teams to work with researchers to develop interventions and evaluation proposals relevant to their projects.

Before-after comparisons show the workshop improved knowledge of participants. In a seven-point scale, the average score increased from 4.17 to 4.46 or 6.9 percent.  As expected, individuals who scored low during the pre-test, benefited the most from the workshop: the scores for those that scored under 4 in the baseline test increased from 3.12 to 3.75 or 20.4 percent. Over 90 percent of participants reported being satisfied with the technical content and to have learned what works and what doesn’t to measure the impact of a program. The positive feedback was also reflected by positive emails from participants:

“The workshop was a huge learning curve for me and I have come back to India enlightened and feeling super confident about the next stage of our work here, Vinta Nanda (India), Managing Director, Asian Center for Entertainment Education and CEO, The Third Eye.

“Let the magic that we all witnessed last week transform the world with all these projects, ideas, connections, and impact evaluations,” Lorena Guillé-Laris (Mexico), Director,  Cinepolis Foundation.

“I learned a lot and now I have the challenge to share all ideas with my colleagues here at Roberto Marinho Foundation. Today, it is so rare to participate in a meeting of so high a level, with so many interesting people from different places and backgrounds. Congratulations!” Monica Pinto (Brazil), Development Manager, Roberto Marinho Foundation.

 “Thank you for a wonderful gathering of the most interesting leaders in EE and for provoking stimulating discussions in plenary and small teams throughout the week. I hope many new EE collaborations will take place as a result, and I look forward to working with you all!” Sandra de Castro Buffington (USA), Director, UCLA Global Media Center.

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2017

Going Forward

Despite being launched a year ago, the Edutainment program has generated important knowledge in the field of mass-media entertainment.  DIME has or will soon have three published papers of edu-tainment interventions to i) promote financial literacy and savings among entrepreneurs in Lagos; ii) reduce risky sexual behavior and gender-based violence among youth in Nigeria; and iii) adopt solar panels in rural Senegal. In addition to studying the effectiveness of edutainment across sectors, these advanced evaluations study the effectiveness of different mass-media outlets (that is, movies, TV series, radio spots, and printed material). Study results have been presented in academic, policymaker, and producer circles. As mentioned above, the results have received media coverage beyond development outlets.

The program team is raising funds to open a window that will support a new generation of edutainment research required to introduce edutainment into development mainstream. The window will focus on innovations that can potentially promote and sustain behavior change among the largest number of individuals. Thematically, the window would support research projects in the following sub-themes: Sex in the city, Stopping violence, Empowering men and women, Keeping clean, and Playful learning.  Table 5 provides a list of ongoing and likely edutainment projects. Over the next two years, the program will use its existing partnerships with development partners and leading media houses to expand its research in the major entertainment hubs of Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, and India, countries with large populations that produce for their respective regions. This should facilitate translating research evidence into development and industry strategies for global impact. 

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2017