By Enoch Sithole:
-Journalism education at the Somali National University (SNU) will benefit from a new curriculum from March, this year, thanks to assistance from Fojo Media Institute, supported by International Media Support (IMS), in an initiative led by veteran journalism educator, Professor Kaarle Nordenstreng
Outlining the initiative’s history, Prof Nordenstreng said it all started with an approach from his former student at Finland’s University of Tampere, now Dean of the Faculty of Journalism at SNU, Abdulkadir Mohamed Diesow. Prof Nordenstreng said there was a concern that the journalism curriculum at SNU was poorly structured and there was a need for a more streamlined one that would be in line with contemporary norms.
The project was launched in May 2021 with a questionnaire addressed to teachers and students of the SNU Journalism Bachelor’s degree programme, eliciting their opinions on the importance of existing courses.
The next stage, reads the project’s final report, was to obtain an overview of the curriculum structure by dividing the current courses into five thematic categories: languages, society, research, media theory and media practice. “The overall profile of the degree programme was concluded to be reasonable and the courses to generally meet the standards of BA-level university studies.”
The new curriculum comprises 52 courses, with most of them based on disciplines of the prevailing Bachelor’s degree programme. “Compared to similar programmes around the world, some specific topics such as health communication, gender and media are missing, but the core substance represents an international standard in line with UNESCO,” the report adds.
Prof Nordenstreng said a special element in the new curriculum was the inclusion of introductory courses in sociology and political science. “These are longer and more demanding than standard courses in the main subject, bringing the rudiments of social sciences into the disciplinary basis of the degree. In the SNU journalism degree, this is particularly opportune as sociology and political science are taught in the same Faculty of Social Sciences.” He said they introduced the teaching of the two courses to ensure that journalism graduates had a grasp of the political and sociological issues of their country so as to inform their journalism.
The new curriculum will be launched in early March in Mogadishu, where SNU is based. Somalia remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.