By Enoch Sithole:

The Théophraste Network, a global network of French-speaking journalism training schools, is tackling several contemporary challenges facing journalism education.

                             Fabien Barral via Unsplash

The network’s president, Mamadou Ndiaye, who also leads the Centre d’Etudes des Sciences et Techniques de l’Information (CESTI) at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, told Ajenda that through its members, mainly educational and research establishments in Information and Communication Sciences and Journalism, the Théophraste Network had recognized expertise in terms of cooperation and research. 

“Its members have already taken part, in large numbers, in quality scientific productions, in sometimes large-scale quantitative and qualitative surveys, as well as in the organization of scientific events in fields related to the information universe (annual conferences, coordination for UNESCO of the French version of the manual of journalism training curricula, establishment of a certification process for schools of journalism, etc),” he said. 

He added that their areas of expertise, both in teaching and in research, had drawn them into fact-checking research since the early 2000s, fighting against disinformation.

In addition, he said, the Théophraste Network “knows how to work at the level of French-speaking countries all over the world and benefits from the support of its many members, who are very invested in the life and projects of the network.”

The Théophraste Network draws its name from 17th century journalist and physician, Théophraste Renaudot.

Mamadou Ndiaye

Ndiaye said the network was created in March 1994 when 14 French-speaking journalism training centers decided to federate with the main objective of promoting the French-speaking model of journalism training. The network now has around 20 member institutions which all share the objectives of promoting and developing teaching in journalism within the framework of exchanges of educational experiences and research collaboration. The Théophraste Network also represents French-speaking journalism schools within the World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC).


The network operates in several countries, mainly but not exclusively French-speaking, he added. Member institutions are CAPJC Tunis (Tunisia); CESTI Dakar (Senegal); CFJM Lausanne (Switzerland); Department of Information and Communication, Laval University (Canada); Department for Media and Journalism, University of Linnaeus (Sweden); Public School of Journalism of Tours (France); Brussels University School of Journalism, Free University of Brussels (Belgium); ESJ Lille (France); ESSTIC Yaoundé (Cameroon); Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication of the University of Sofia (Bulgaria); Faculty of Journalism and Communication Sciences (FJSC), University of Bucharest (Romania); IHECS Brussels (Belgium); IJBA Bordeaux (France); IPJ Paris Dauphine (France); IPSI Tunis (Tunisia); ISIC Rabat (Morocco); ISTC Abidjan (Ivory Coast); University of Ottawa (Canada); University of Moncton (Canada) and Antananarivo University (Madagascar).

Its head office is in Paris within the Practical Institute of Journalism of the Paris Dauphine University. The network is led by a President and a Board of Directors elected for a term of four years. A general meeting is held every two years, and all member schools are required to pay an annual fee.

Ndiaye said the network’s charter sets several objectives:

  • Contribute to the definition of the specific nature of journalism professions and their demarcation from other sectors of communication;
  • Contribute to the affirmation of the essential role of the journalist in democratic life and in the development of the spirit of citizenship;
  • Contribute to the development of the pedagogy of journalism education in the face of contemporary technological and economic challenges, while respecting cultural plurality;
  • Reflect on the practices of this profession and on its ethical dimension in order to respond to the transformations of the process of production, dissemination and reception of information;
  • Promote all forms of cooperation and exchange of human and documentary resources in teaching, pedagogy and research in journalism.

The network faced several challenges, Ndiaye said, including the rapid development of the Internet, the emergence of new journalistic practices like fact-checking, data journalism and others, disinformation, Covid-19, distance education and most recently, artificial intelligence.

Ajenda asked him about work in indigenous languages as people in many francophone countries speak them and he said work at the network level mostly remained in French. 

However, each school has the particularity of developing lessons in the languages ​​of its choice. As for the CESTI at Cheikh Anta Diop University, in Dakar, which I run, the lessons are in French. But we also teach English and indigenous languages ​​(Wolof, Serer, Fulani or Fulfulbe) because very often the press organizations that employ our graduates ask us to do so. Also, in Senegal, the illiteracy rate being high, indigenous languages ​​occupy an important place in the programs of audiovisual press groups,” said Ndiaye.