Former UNESCO chair of Media and Democracy at Rhodes University, Prof Fackson Banda presented a paper at the World Journalism Educators Conference on Monday addressing the challenges of developing a syllabus for reporting Africa.
Now a UNESCO program officer in Paris, Banda has returned to Rhodes to share the outcome of a UNESCO project to develop a syllabus for reporting Africa. He impressed upon WJEC the following needs:
- The need to interrogate epistemology and ontology issues
- The need to interrogate new teaching methods
- The need to assess the impact of training in Africa.
Banda said that to report on Africa aspiring journalists needed four levels of orientation.
Firstly, students needed to be rooted in the historical context of Africa from an African perspective. Secondly, they needed a self reflective ethical orientation using African morality and philosophy.
The issue of an Africana, as opposed to African, came up recognizing the need to be able to generate modules for training Africa related issue anywhere in the world.
A third input required a critical understanding the developmental context. Historically, under the label “development communication”. This meant imparting development related messaged that would inform the masses and define direction.
Today, said Banda, it meant learning how to speak to an engaged citizenry. Training needed to prepare students for the task of managing messages in culturally and linguistically diverse forms.
A lot of the original thinking came out of a WJEC preparatory colloquium chaired by Banda last year at Rhodes. The aim of the colloquium was threefold, namely to:
- Affirm and strengthen pan African intellectual contributions in articulating a shared agenda for African journalism education in the global educational public sphere;
- Validate and accentuate, through rigorous African peer review, individual and collective scholarly analysis and evaluation of African journalistic traditions and cultures and how these influence journalism education and research across sub-Saharan Africa; and thus;
- Outline and propagate a shared agenda or identity for African journalism training within and without Africa. The colloquium affirmed and strengthened individual and collective contributions to the field of African journalism education. Through this colloquium, said Banda in his introductory remarks last year, scholars were helping to frame the agenda for conceptualizing, researching, teaching, and practicing journalism in Africa. A model African journalism Training curriculum has been developed.