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Criteria and indicators for quality journalism training institutions and identifying potential centres of exellence in journalism training in Africa
51 p.
"Seeking to map the African journalism schools landscape, create a system to assess excellence, and identify the top 15-20 schools, the report revealed an in-depth picture of the current state of journalism education on the continent. With 34 schools visited and 96 mapped, 19 met the criteria defined by UNESCO for centers of excellence, and 30 completed checklists hoping to become eligible. According to the report, four in ten schools have no web presence, three in ten only a parent site, two in ten have some basics online, and one in ten has a deeper presence. In total, 15 percent of journalism schools in Africa have a cyber presence in 2007. Such absence presents challenges to necessary collaboration between institutes as well as media outlets. Commissioned by UNESCO to Rhodes University School of Journalism and Media Studies in Grahamstown, South Africa, and the Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme (ESJ) in Lille, France, the report was presented at the Highway Africa conference, an annual ICT conference hosted by Rhodes University. Professor Guy Berger, acting head of the School of Journalism & Media Studies at Rhodes University who presented the report at the event, spoke to RAP 21 about the issues faced in journalism education today. ″Educators are too isolated from each other and schools are not pumping on three cylinders of educating entry level, training working journalists, and acting as a public intellectual promoting media freedom, law reform, media literacy, and media skilling in the communities,″ Berger told RAP 21. The report gathered general information on the journalism schools such as status of schools, primary language taught in, courses offered, graduate level, conditions for acceptance, time spent on practical media production, and specialisations in practical journalistic production areas. Going further, self-perception on standing and reputation of institutions, links with national media, and the approximate percentage of learners who are employed in journalism at the end of their studies/courses was assessed. In relation to international connections, the study identified areas for improvement. ″Several journalism schools have good connections with non-African institutions, but there is no easy central resource like a website or online social network that would help for a deeper and wider network within Africa,″ said Berger. According to the report, the reputation of African schools has also remained uneven. ″Often the industry criticizes the schools, but some schools correctly point to serious problems in the industry, such as newspapers and broadcasters that present government propaganda rather than independent journalism,″ said Berger. Berger added however, that most Centers of excellence cited in the report had cool relations with their national industry, which may include a critical independence at times. The second part of the report identified Centers of Excellence and also Centers of Reference across the continent. Bringing greater networking between such institutions and others was something Berger stressed. ″There has been ad hoc support for diverse schools by diverse agencies, and it has not been sustained nor has it been geared toward networking,″ said Berger. Nonetheless, he said professionals could gain from building relationships with journalism schools across Africa. ″Media professionals can contribute a lot and gain a lot. Journalism and media models are in flux, and young minds are needed to invent new solutions in the context of the experience of the extant,″ Berger said. While the report identified areas in need of improvement, Berger said schools in Africa have been working to achieve success. ″The greatest surprise was achievement in the face of enormous obstacles. Despite lack of resources (including human), there exist schools that continue teaching students who successfully get jobs in the industry,″ he concluded." (African Press Network for the 21st Century Newsletter No 21/2007)

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