03.04.2012 - Idasa-GAP/UNESCO

Idasa surveys HIV and AIDS teaching in South African journalism schools

The African Democracy Institute (Idasa) has completed an assessment on how HIV and AIDS, as well as other development issues, are featured in journalism curricula at four academic institutions in South Africa. Commissioned by UNESCO and implemented by Idasa’s Governance and AIDS Programme (Idasa-GAP), the assessment explored the way in which journalism teaching prepares students for covering development challenges like HIV and AIDS.

The assessment was based on a conceptual approach informed by Idasa-GAP’s experience in developing learning materials for journalism training in eight countries in sub-Sahara Africa: Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Namibia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

UNESCO commissioned Idasa-GAP to develop a tool to assess the way in which HIV and AIDS is incorporated in journalism curricula. In its proposal to UNESCO, Idasa-GAP argued that in terms of curriculum development HIV and AIDS should be explored within a broader context of the relationship between journalists and citizens, and the connections to social and developmental issues – HIV and AIDS being one of them.

The assessment was implemented at UNESCO’s four potential centres of excellence in journalism education in South Africa – Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University, Tshwane University of Technology and Walter Sisulu University. Idasa-GAP conducted semi-structured interviews with at least two faculty members at each institution.

The assessment report makes the following recommendations:

  • The link between development (including HIV and AIDS) and the role of journalists in democratic process should be incorporated in curricula in a structured and systematic way.
  • Community, community media, commercial media and mainstream media, as well as links to civic-minded journalism should be clearly defined.
  • Civic-minded approaches to journalism could benefit from more collaborative teaching practices and more interaction between students from different journalism institutions.
  • Journalism educators need specific methodologies and tools to teach civic-minded journalism which feature development themes.
  • Curricula should be deliberate in its efforts to explore ways in which development issues could be told in more compelling ways.
  • The industry should be involved in efforts to explore more civic-minded approaches to journalism.
  • Interaction with diverse communities should be included in the practice of civic-minded journalism teaching.
  • Diverse language options and language skills should be considered as part of civic-minded approaches to journalism teaching.
  • Journalism education should be more deliberate in its efforts to make students care about the world and its problems.

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