Incorporating HIV and AIDS into journalism curricula in Africa
When citizens and government talk to each other about HIV and AIDS, what do they say and how the media can catalyse this conversation? Since 2004, Idasa-GAP has been raising awareness of journalists about the link between HIV and AIDS and good governance. Last year UNESCO, with support from Sida and Norad, commissioned an assessment tool on how HIV and AIDS are incorporated into journalism curricula. Interviews with key respondents from South African journalism schools have now been completed as part of this assessment.
On the premise that vibrant conversation between citizens and the government is part of democratic practice, the Governance and AIDS Programme of the African Democracy Institute Idasa (Idasa-GAP) has developed a number of training modules for journalists related to democratic practice and citizenship in the context of HIV and AIDS. These modules are based on evidence from Idasa-GAP’s research on the impact of HIV and AIDS on democratic institutions, budget allocation and expenditure, and participation in democratic processes.
In 2010 UNESCO asked Idasa-GAP to develop a tool that could be used to assess how HIV and AIDS, as well as other development issues, are incorporated into curricula at journalism schools. The four journalism schools that are part of the current pilot assessment have all been identified by UNESCO as potential centres of excellence in journalism education in Africa - Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University, Tshwane University of Technology and Walter Sisulu University. The assessment tool, which is now being implemented, has been developed through a consultative process with the four selected South African institutions, as well as with potential centres of excellence in Kenya, Namibia, Uganda and other trainers who form part of Idasa-GAP’s reference group on curriculum development.
The assessment questionnaire is divided into two parts. The first part consists of a checklist of questions that describe elements of journalism programmes. The second part has been designed to stimulate reflection about journalism education and its relation to questions of development and democracy. This second part covers three sets of criteria:
· curriculum and institutional capacity,
· professional and public engagement, and
· development strategies to realize potential of civic journalism.
The information gathered through the questionnaire is now being analysed; a report with a proposed curriculum based on the results of the assessment is to be presented to UNESCO in December 2011. The draft version of this report was discussed by educators, including those who formed part of the assessment, at Idasa-GAP’s Governance and AIDS Forum in Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania) this month.