Educate students for democratic citizenship, UNESCO urges Nigerian professors of journalism
Civic-minded and critically aware journalism students are a sure way of countering the rise of “fake news” and propaganda.
Fackson Banda, programme specialist in the secretariat of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), made this point in his keynote address to over 100 Nigerian communication professors recently.
The occasion was a workshop on reviewing the communication curriculum, convened on 8 and 9 September in Kano, Nigeria.
UNESCO encourages such reflection under its IPDC Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education.
Banda argued: “A meaningful journalism curriculum is one that brings together all the elements of providing civic knowledge, promoting loyalty to democratic values and nurturing democratic rituals into producing graduates that will be civically and critically conscious, reinforcing in them notions of civic participation, accountability, solidarity, tolerance, courage, etc.”
He added that it was such civic virtues that defined democratic citizenship, which is at the core of UNESCO’s wider concept of global citizenship.
“A good journalism curriculum must have as its test whether it has produced citizens, and not subjects,” Banda emphasised. “Such civically engaged citizens are more likely to act as a buffer against the spread of any ‘fake news’ and propaganda.”
The workshop brought together selected Nigerian communication professors, curriculum regulatory agencies, international organisations, employers and media related civil society organisations.
Addressing the delegates earlier, Umaru Pate, convener of the workshop as well as professor and dean in the Faculty of Communication of Kano’s Bayero University, pointed out that the UNESCO model curricula were the impetus behind this latest push for a national review of communication curricula.
He argued that it was the first time ever that such an effort received clear endorsement not only from Nigeria’s National Universities Commission (NUC) but also from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
In addition, speaking at an earlier conference of the Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria, which coincided with the curriculum review, Lai Mohammed, Federal Minister of Information, bemoaned the rise of “fake news” in the country, calling upon journalism professors to do more in stemming its spread.
“Be that as it may,” Mohammed told the delegates, “we will not stifle press freedom.”
The two events represented the first-ever comprehensive review of communication curricula in Nigeria, taking as its template the UNESCO Model Curricula for Journalism Education produced in 2007, and the updates in 2013 and 2015 in the form of a series of specialised journalism syllabi.