Strengthening journalism education in Afghanistan
A workshop organized by UNESCO’s Kabul and Tehran Offices last month focused on the adaptation of UNESCO’s Model Curricula for Journalism Education to the specific needs of Afghanistan, a country that has been affected by wars and conflicts over the past decades. Hosted by the Faculty of Journalism at Kabul University, the event was attended by around 20 participants from Afghan universities and journalism training institutions.
Journalism education has been facing new challenges in recent years, particularly related to the advance of new communication and information technologies. The development of journalism curricula is a crucial step towards strengthening journalism education in post-conflict countries like Afghanistan.
Zulkarimein Nasution, a senior lecturer from University of Indonesia and the main resource person at the UNESCO workshop, outlined in his presentation some important aspects of curricula development. He explained that curriculum, which is the basis of an educational process, can be relatively better controlled than other elements of this process: budget, students, environment, etc. He also stressed one of the most important steps in a curriculum design, which is the decision about competences to be mastered by future graduates.
While presenting UNESCO’s Model Curricula, Mr Nasution particularly highlighted the three main pillars of journalism education the Model is based upon:
- norms, values, tools, standards and practices of journalism;
- social, cultural, political, economic, legal and ethical aspects of journalism practice both within and outside the national borders; and
- knowledge of the world and journalism’s intellectual challenges.
Vice Chancellor of Kabul University, Prof. Mohammad Salim Rahimi, opened the workshop, and Prof. Hameedullah Amin, Chancellor of Kabul University, chaired the closing session. In their remarks both of them stressed the importance of UNESCO’s support for their country, which is undergoing a critical stage in its movement towards strengthening education, including in the field of journalism.
“We are rebuilding our country, including our education system after three decades of wars and conflicts. Only through education can we prepare our younger generation. The UNESCO workshop is a good initial step towards the development of an inclusive and standardized journalism curriculum in Afghanistan,” said Professor Hameedullah Amin. “Journalism has made a tremendous progress in recent years and we need to have an appropriate curriculum to keep up with the pace”, he added.
The Faculty of Journalism of Kabul University is in the process of reviewing its current curricula. It has already established contacts with schools in a number of western countries. The UNESCO workshop was in line with the Faculty’s work in this domain.
Arya Gunawan Usis, from UNESCO’s Tehran Office, provided a brief explanation concerning the process of development of UNESCO’s Model Curricula and various activities that have been initiated by the Organization in order to disseminate the Model. Mr Usis also mentioned follow-up activities, which will be implemented based on the recommendations of the workshop. He also conveyed the message from the Director of UNESCO’s Kabul Office, expressing UNESCO’s long-term commitment towards supporting higher education in Afghanistan, with Kabul University being one of the main partners in this process.
The UNESCO Model Curricula for Journalism Education is a generic model that can be adapted according to each country’s specific needs. It takes full cognizance of the social, economic, political and cultural contexts of developing countries and emerging democracies, highlighting the connection between democracy and journalism and arguing for a more cross-disciplinary approach within journalism training centers. The process to develop the Model was started in December 2005, in response to numerous requests from Member States for help in the design of journalism education curricula.