18.03.2010 -

Syllabus on reporting Africa: Findings of discussion forum

UNESCO and Rhodes University have teamed up to roll out an online discussion that will culminate in researching, developing and disseminating a possible syllabus on reporting Africa, based on the UNESCO Model Curricula for Journalism Education. The initial outcome of the online discussion clearly demonstrated a need for such a syllabus.

The project is spearheaded by <a href="mailto:f.banda@ru.ac.za">Prof. Fackson Banda</a>, from Rhodes University's SAB Ltd-UNESCO Chair of Media and Democracy, in cooperation with the UNESCO Windhoek Office. It involved all media practitioners, trainers, experts or interested parties who have a keen interest in indigenising journalism education.

 

The discussion forum was set up on the <a target="_blank" href="http://journalismschools.unesco-ci.org">UNESCO African Journalism Schools</a> platform and focused on answering three pertinent questions: Is there a need for a specific syllabus on (news) reporting on Africa, bearing in mind the UNESCO Model Curricula for Journalism Education? What the key subject elements for such a syllabus could be? And finally, how such a syllabus could be popularised both in Africa and elsewhere in the world?

 

The initial outcome clearly demonstrated that there is indeed a need for such a syllabus to be developed. Even though the responses focused more on the content for the proposed syllabus, they highlighted that "the idea of reporting on Africa syllabus is brilliant!"

 

The question "What the key subject elements for such a syllabus would be?" received various responses. However, the responses mainly centred on the need for understanding the political history of Africa as a means to locate the practice of journalism in the African context. Peace journalism was suggested as a means to respond to the troubled history of conflicts in Africa.

 

There was also an emphasis on experiential journalism, with a greater focus on "the arts and sciences" knowledge, which would enhance African journalistic analysis and reporting. Participants also highlighted the importance of focusing on the interplay between the African continent and global decision-making institutions as an aspect of the contemporary political history of Africa in the age of global governance and communication.

 

Development journalism was also highlighted as a way of raising critical awareness among student journalists about the key development challenges that confront Africa and Africans, such as HIV and AIDS, and poverty.

 

The project will now turn to the development of 4 modules on:

<li>Political history of Africa;

<li>Journalism ethics in Africa;

<li>Development journalism in Africa; and

<li>Indigenous language media and democracy in Africa.

Once these modules have been drawn up they will be discussed on the African Journalism Schools Platform. UNESCO, as well as Rhodes University, is committed to the pursuit of such a valuable resource.




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