Research entails finding out what needs to be done to either correct/improve on existing systems or finding news ways of doing things. The research paper on finding new ways of training journalists in Africa, presented by Professsor Absalom Mutere, Dean, School of Journalism of the African University College of Communications, Accra-Ghana, was one of such incisive discussions on the subject on Pan-African journalism training curriculum.
Prof. Absalom was of the view that most journalism training curricula were theory-based which hadn’t helped much in pushing the agenda of effectively reaching out to the people, as well as meeting the demands of industry. To him, there was the need to initiate a student-driven approach which would of course be guided by faculty in the quest for what needed to be taught, how to teach them and the review systems needed in order to always stay in the market.
Prof. Absalom cited the example of a pilot project which is funded by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation with the view to allowing students to go to the field, survey out their perspectives, project what fascinate them and then put their findings across for scrutiny.
Some of the problems envisaged included lack of material support and enthusiasm of students to set the pace for their own destiny. For example, with twenty students from the beginning, half of them have dropped because of the various challenges therein. The potential however shown by the remaining students was encouraging, he said, and with the right push by faculty, a new generation of students borne out of their own self-assessment and future needs would have been put on the map of j-education, which, Africa in particular, needed to bridge the jawning gap between itself and the rest of the world.
One area that boosted the pilot project was the shift from the classroom to the field, and in particular, learning and capacity-building experiences with neighbouring countries of Ghana. That, Prof. Absalom believed, would expand the quest for the knowledge base beyond the students’ own borders so as to give the new curriculum an international and cross-border dimension. So far, students had undertaken trips to Burkina Faso and Volta Region-Togo where they interacted with their counterparts in j-education faculties. The next trip for which plans were far advanced had been slated for La Cote d’Ivoire early October 2010.
Another dimension was the linkage of the programme to African-American communities of which an exchange programme with Morehouse College, Atlanta, USA was in its second year. Under the Morehouse Pan-African Global Experience [MPAGE] programme, AUCC hosted 20 students and three faculty members from 7th June to 17th July 2010. There were joint tours to places of political, historical and socio-cultural importance across the country; joint class sessions were held, and students of both schools prepared projects and presented at organized fora.
Linking up to sub-regional neighbours and the Diasporan community for a start, Prof. Absalom said, was the beginning for preparing programmes for sub-regional integration in the j-education project, which, of course, needed trans-continental linkages for j-education to be on the same keel continent-wide.