By Modou S. Joof
The National Training Authority, NTA, on March 11, 2013 accredited the Gambia Press Union (GPU) School of Journalism, which is mandated to provide journalism education up to a diploma level.
It is an unprecedented development in a country that has never had a formal structure for journalism education, a GPU statement said on Monday, March 17.
Under the terms and conditions of its licence, the GPU School of Journalism is mandated to offer journalism education up to a diploma level within the framework of the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in The Gambia.
The NTA is the body responsible for the regulation of TVET in the country, and has the power to revoke licences of any training institute deemed to fall short of delivering standard education.
The lack of a journalism school means most of the working journalists in the country are either without a formal education in journalism or professional training, said the GPU, the country’s highest representative of journalists.
“However, with the coming into being of the GPU School of Journalism, Gambian journalism is now poised to redeem itself and entrench professionalism finally,” says GPU’s Executive Director Gibairu Janneh.
The GPU is currently running a diploma programme dubbed the Professional Reporter Programme (PRP 2013-2015), of which 20 trainees (journalists and beginners) are enrolled after a vigorous selection process.
Unlike other training opportunities previously offered in the country, the PRP provides depth and scope, coherence and system, innovation and creativity in its curriculum, pedagogy and methodology, thus positioning itself as a model for journalism education in the country.
“The GPU School of Journalism naturally builds on the PRP’s pedigree that follows a triple path: teaching journalism and media specialization along with general knowledge, analytical skills and English language skills,” says Mr Janneh who is also the Union’s Secretary General.
The 2013-2015 diploma programme combines classroom sessions, distance learning and actual journalism production for print and radio on various development issues such as health, climate change, agriculture and poverty, public policy and public administration, the law and the legal system.
The GPU said the trainees receive a thorough education in:
“Core reporting skills; analytic skills; journalism training skills; English language skills; ICT skills; proactive news reporting; interviewing techniques; research methodology; spot reportage; feature writing; public and development communication; newsroom management, ethical journalism; journalism and society; narrative journalism; investigative journalism; and production skills.
“The education applies media theories to day-to-day practice, teaching how to meet the needs of the readers, listeners, or viewers and to set their agenda. Students specialize in either print or radio, but they also learn core skills in other media such as photojournalism and online journalism.
“Students have free access to a fully air-conditioned state-of-the-art computer laboratory equipped with 15 personal computers and 12 laptop computers with a WiFi facility in addition to a modern studio for hands-on training in radio journalism.”
An unedited version of this article is available HERE.