Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education

The Roots

An outline of the Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education was presented to the 58th IPDC Bureau in March 2014. It follows from the Potential Centres of Excellence/Reference in Journalism Education in Africa project which was concluded as a special initiative by the 57th IPDC Bureau. The Potential Centres project was the subject of an internal review. Its findings are available at:


This present initiative is an outcome of that study – representing a strategic upscaling of work under the Potential Centres project, to provide an internationally recognised framework for implementing UNESCO’s interventions in defining and promoting globally shared excellence in journalism education.


Why this initiative?

The Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education has been developed with a view to UNESCO’s strategic approach towards supporting journalism education in the 2014-2018 C4 planning period. It builds upon the recent past in which selected African journalism schools were recognised by UNESCO as potential centres of excellence or reference. Using the lessons of the past five years to promote globally shared excellence in journalism education, the Initiative seeks to place the success stories amongst the African centres at the heart of promoting international collegial discussion, definition and sharing of perspectives of excellence in teaching, research and professional outreach for schools of journalism. This aligns with UNESCO’s Priority Africa, and it facilitates international sharing of good practices in journalism education.

As part of the Global Initiative, UNESCO has partnered with Orbicom – the Montreal-based network of UNESCO chairs in communication – to take forward the dialogue and debate. Conceived as a set of critical-thinking skills and practices, journalism education has potential to raise awareness of contemporary development challenges and the role of the world’s journalism schools in it, thereby helping to produce questioning, independent and internationally-informed journalism graduates worldwide who, through their journalistic outputs, can disseminate quality knowledge for peace, development and democracy..


As a key part of this global strategy, this unfolding new phase will see UNESCO supporting African schools of journalism to become more integrated, as a dynamic force, into the global mainstream of journalism education such as through strategic partnerships facilitated by the Organization’s convening power. As a first step, UNESCO and Orbicom have invited the 12 African centres which took part in the review to become founding members of the Global Initiative. More specifically, through this initiative, UNESCO, notwithstanding its financial constraints, aims to:


  • Provide opportunities and advice where journalism schools, especially African schools, seek to establish a UNESCO chair in a particular specialisation where they are on course to excel (e.g. Entrepreneurial Journalism, Science Journalism, etc.).
  • Expand access to other schools of journalism in the network by encouraging and actively supporting participation in key international networks of journalism educators (Orbicom, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication [AEJMC], etc.).
  • Support efforts to access the funding grants that are decided by the Bureau of UNESCO’s IPDC.
  • Facilitate with funding partners active participation in national/regional/international conferences such as the World Journalism Education Congress [WJEC]).
  • Encourage institutions to contribute to and actively use UNESCO-commissioned curricula resources, including specialized syllabi such as those recently published and available on our website.
  • Invite schools to participate in research into and discussions of media development data related to the IPDC-endorsed Knowledge-Driven Media Development initiative as well as other similar activities within UNESCO and its partner organisations. 



Some activities

Several programmatic activities are envisaged and being implemented, and our most recent report can be found here. For example:


  • The IPDC publication titled "Climate Change in Africa: A Guidebook for Journalists" was launched in Ghana by the country’s former President and current UN Special Envoy on Climate Change, John Kufuor. Using the guidebook, several key activities have unfolded, including the following:
    • Collaboration with the French Agency for Media Cooperation (CFI) to train 18 African journalists, who then reported on the International Scientific Conference and the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) events in July and December 2015 respectively.
    • Further COP21-linked work involved use of this guidebook by the IPDC to forge a strategic partnership with the Franco-Russian think tank Destination Est, whereby the IPDC was invited to address a group of 15 Russian journalists on reporting the global problem of climate change and how the Programme was supporting journalistic training interventions in this regard. A related activity involved the IPDC cooperating with UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) to co-host a media breakfast for the presentation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 5th Assessment Report. Over 20 journalists, mostly drawn from the IPDC’s partners CFI (French Agency for Media Cooperation) and Internews, participated in the event, where the IPDC outlined its work in building the capacities of developing-country and other journalists through the guidebook (Climate Change in Africa: A Guidebook for Journalists).
    • Outside Africa, the guidebook was instrumental in two workshops held by the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office in Iran and Turkmenistan. While some 35 journalists participated in Tehran, over 85 journalism students and professors took part in Ashgabat.
    • Furthermore, the guidebook was translated into Tamil by the School of Linguistics and Communication of India’s Madurai Kamaraj University for the benefit of young and aspiring Tamil language journalists, who were scheduled to participate in a training programme supported by Internews. New references relevant to the region were included in the translated version, thereby enriching it for wider application.
  • Under this initiative, UNESCO will take advantage of the International  Institute for Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict-Sensitive Reporting (IIDCSR) – a UNESCO Category 2 institute at Oregon University in the USA – to collaborate with the latter’s “Global Oregon initiatives”, which will include enhancing intercultural competencies among schools of journalism and media organisations. One such activity will involve using the IIDCSR’s expertise for a workshop to be held in Nairobi. The workshop is supported by the Government of Saudi Arabia, and seeks to promote intercultural understanding, dialogue and tolerance  Through collaboration with the category 2 institute, UNESCO also envisages to better collaborate with SOJC’s efforts in producing a series of documentaries based on World Press Freedom Day experiences globally. Such documentaries are useful resources for students and also provide training ground for them,
  • Through this Initiative, greater partnerships will be sought to support the production of new, and possible translation of existing, UNESCO specialized journalism syllabi. To this end, UNESCO, through its Beijing office, initiated discussions with the Communication University of China (CUC) to which resulted in the CUC translating UNESCO’s Model Curricula for Journalism Education: A Compendium of New Syllabi into Chinese. A review workshop was also held, with several other Chinese universities endorsing the Chinese version of the publication.
  • The Global Initiative could become a key and permanent feature of Orbicom’s annual review meetings, providing a forum for greater international discussion of and collaboration on projects of pedagogical value for the members of the network. To this end, via this initiative, 4 African teachers of journalism were supported to participate in the annual conference of Orbicom held in Bordeaux in November 2014. The support encouraged greater and more structured educational cooperation between African schools of journalism and their counterparts from Latin America, North America (including Canada), Europe and other parts of the world.




Anyone seeking more information on how they can become a member of the Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education please contact Fackson Banda on f.banda(at)

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