By Enoch Sithole:

The Unesco project on Excellence in Journalism Education in Africa has selected 10 proposals for funding.

The 10 were among 53 proposals from 23 countries from all five regions of the continent. They will each receive $15 500. 

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The selection followed an invitation sent to 30+ universities and training centres across the continent to help develop criteria for excellence in journalism education. The initiative has been supported by Google News Initiative and coordinated by the Wits Centre for Journalism and the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University (South Africa), said Unesco in its website.

Based on the agreed upon criteria, the centres were invited to self-assess and identify gaps in their own programmes. They submitted a proposal for one of the 10 grants available to help address these gaps. The proposals involved integrating new UNESCO curriculum resources on fake news and disinformation, migration, terrorism and climate change, into their programmes, or deepening links between universities and the media industry. Some institutions also proposed activities promoting key international days like World Press Freedom Day to mobilize partnership, devise innovative teaching methodologies adapted to challenges identified in Africa, or take steps towards building a community of practice in African journalism education, the website reads.  

The project builds upon an earlier initiative supported by UNESCO in 2007, when 12 journalism schools were identified as centres of excellence in journalism education according to a set of criteria developed at the time. Throughout the current project, 100+ schools in the region were exposed to the process of developing new criteria that address the latest developments in the media sector and challenges relevant to the African context. Ultimately, the project aims to strengthen the African media landscape by helping to better address the training needs of the next generation of media workers

The project was instituted by now retired director of the division freedom of expression and media development, Prof Guy Berger.  Speaking about the selection of the 10 projects, Prof Berger said: “The idea is that if it works in Africa, maybe it can work elsewhere in other regions… And then you’ve got a worldwide initiative based on African experience. So, that would be quite interesting when every project wraps up in July next year. He said a better response from the grant recipients would encourage Unesco and donors to institute similar projects in the future.

Below are the projects that have been selected, their topics and respective regions:

Central Africa

  • Université Bilingue du Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) – “Capacity-building workshops and teaching manual design for journalism educators and journalism students: Addressing Environmental Journalism issues”
  • Université de Douala (Cameroon) – “Data journalism, incorporating into curriculum”

East Africa

  • Bahir Dar University (Ethiopia) – “Reconstructing Peace through Gender-Sensitive Reporting”
  • Tangaza University College (Kenya) – “Strengthening environmental journalism”
  • Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (Malawi) – “Development of Model for Resilience and Sustainability of Malawi Community Media in the Digital Era”

North Africa

  • Institut Supérieur de l’Information et de la Communication, ISIC (Morocco) – “Development and implementation of a digital platform for students’ journalistic productions and expressions”

Southern Africa

  • Namibia University of Science & Technology (Namibia) – “Nourishing the grassroots: Journalism Education and Inclusive Participation for Namibia’s Marginalised Communities”
  • University of Eswatini (Eswatini) – “Advancing Journalism Education and Practice through the UNESWA Data Journalism Training Project”
  • Fraycollege (South Africa) – “In support of journalism sustainability on the continent by creating a comprehensive course on revenue generation for an African newsroom in the digital age”

West Africa

  • Ghana Institute of Journalism (Ghana) – “Creating a gender-sensitive, non-discriminatory and inclusive curriculum, classroom and work environment”

The selected proposals will be implemented over six month and expected to wrap up by July 2024.