Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education

In May 2013, UNESCO began exploring a Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education. The development takes place upon the increasingly global applicability and appeal of the original Model Curricula as well as the IPDC’s Special Initiative on UNESCO’s Potential Centres of Excellence in Journalism in Africa initiative which were both started in 2007.

The Global Initiative is seen as being a successor to the work with the African Centres, which supported efforts by African schools of journalism to strengthen their capacities for teaching, strategic development and professional outreach.

This envisaged new phase is about integrating the African Centres into the global mainstream of journalism education, and doing so in collaboration with Orbicom, the Montreal-based network of UNESCO chairs in communication.

Another function of the Global Initiative could be to provide a coherent and cohesive framework for UNESCO’s global interventions in journalism education. In this, the Initiative would promote South-South and North-South partnerships among schools of journalism around a set of core principles of excellence in teaching, research and professional outreach.

In exploring the conceptualisation of this direction, various consultations have taken place:

  • Interactions led by Janis Karklins, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, during a conference held by Orbicom and the Haute Autorité de la Communication Audiovisuelle du Maroc (HACA) from 25 to 26 May 2013 in Rabat, Morocco.
  • Interactions led by Fackson Banda as part of a lecture on 12 June 2013 arranged at UNESCO by the U.S. Mission to UNESCO and which also featured a presentation on conflict-sensitive reporting by Dr Peter Laufer, James Wallace Professor in Journalism, University of Oregon.
  • Interactions led by Fackson Banda in several discussions at the World Journalism Education Congress, in Mechelen, Belgium, on 5-7 July 2013.

More consultations are scheduled to take place, as UNESCO seeks to deepen participation by stakeholders in defining how the Global Initiative could work to leverage the gains of the original Model Curricula and the African Centres initiative, so as to promote excellence in journalism education worldwide and with Africa as a central beneficiary of any such global interventions.

This new initiative in the field of journalism dovetails with the concept of Knowledge-Driven Media Development (KDMD) – a framework endorsed by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) Bureau in March 2013. The KDMD framework highlights the importance of generating and sharing of knowledge and learning to advance media development, and has special relevance to an inclusive approach to strengthening journalism education worldwide.

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