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. 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.

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. 

The multi-sectorial program aims to contribute to a series of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)s: Ongoing impact evaluation studies 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)

So far, the DIME Narrating Behavior Change program has conducted research workshops and impact evaluations in the entertainment hubs of Brazil, India, Mexico and Nigeria. Its innovative research is supported by different World Bank units, development partners and leading media houses from the “Hollywoods of the world”, including the Asian Center for Entertainment Education, Cinepolis Foundation, Discovery Learning Alliance, ITVS, Life Changing Experiences-Cinemapark, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, Population Foundation of India, and the University of Southern California-Hollywood Health & Society.

With support of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, the DIME program will launch a series of evaluations of mobile-based interventions aimed at improving literacy outcomes among vulnerable populations in Sub-Sahara Africa and the Middle East.

DIME “Narrating Behavior Change” Workshop (Mexico City, Mexico, May 16-20, 2016) 

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. 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. 

DIME Using Entertainment to Change Behavior Forum (Lagos, Nigeria, May 4, 2017) 

As part of the DIME “Beyond the Status Quo: Using Impact Evaluation Research to Drive Innovation and Improve Outcomes in Health” workshop, forum panelists discussed the potential of entertainment education in development and the required public-private partnerships for scaling it up both in the public and private sectors. Nollywood was well represented. Desmond Elliot, a Nollywood celebrity and now legislator from Lagos state, opened the event. Representatives from BBC Media Action, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, and the Nollywood production company Ultima Limited, discussed the challenges and the opportunities in Nigeria. Otomola Ekehinde, Nollywood super star, philanthropist, and one of Time Magazine’s most influential people in 2013, encouraged policymakers to work with the industry to reach large audiences. The Lagos forum helped launch new impact evaluations on education and gender empowerment.

Scaling Up Effective Mass Media Interventions Globally

In the New Delhi DIME workshop, the panel “Scaling Up Effective Mass Media Interventions Globally” was chaired by Archna Vyas (The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), and included presentations from Richard Warburton (MTV Staying Alive Foundation), Aric Noboa (Discovery Learning Alliance), Abhishek Srivastava (ITVS), and Adriana Cepeda (Cinemapark-Life Changing Experiences). DIME is conducting evaluations with these four organizations in India, Nigeria and Mexico.

“DIME Mass Media Entertainment to Improve Development Outcomes” workshop (New Delhi, India, February 19-20, 2018) 

The latest DIME workshop took place in New Delhi, were DIME is launching new evaluations of social media interventions aimed at reducing gender-based violence. Dr. Shravan Kumar, the Joint-Secretary for Culture, opened the event; and Professor Abhijit Banerjee (MIT) delivered the keynote address. The impact evaluation workshop brought together counterparts from government, development partners and edu-tainment producers working in India and in other entertainment hubs.  Presentations offered evaluation evidence for different sectors and mediums, as well as innovations on how best to reach vulnerable populations.  Bollywood is betting on mass media for positive behavior change. The week before the New Delhi DIME workshop, the Asian Center for Entertainment Education launched the first edition of the Raj Kapoor Awards for Excellence in Entertainment in Mumbai. The brothers Rajiv, Randhir and Rishi Kapoor were among the awardees of the 2018 Raj Kapoor Awards. These and similar events aim to increase awareness about the potential of mass media as a tool for development.

Last Updated: Apr 05, 2018