By Novell Zwange – PRETORIA – UNESCO organized a one-day consultative meeting with the four South African universities designated as centres of excellence/reference in journalism education. The meeting took place yesterday and was hosted by the University of Fort Hare at its East London campus. It focused on the implementation of one of the modules of the Reporting Africa syllabus, based on UNESCO’s Model Curricula for Journalism Education.
Participants of the meeting shared ideas on how the four institutions, namely Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University, Tshwane University of Technology and Walter Sisulu University, could implement the module, Indigenous Language Media and Democracy in Africa, in their journalism curricula. This module is one of the four in the Reporting Africa syllabus prepared for UNESCO, which has the following overall objectives:
• to root students in the African historical context of journalistic production;
• to bring about a self-reflective journalistic ethical approach that is grounded in a critical appreciation of the social and historical context
• to promote a critical understanding of the development contexts and priorities that African
• to experiment with culturally and linguistically innovative media forms, which engage themselves into a more democratic journalistic practice.
The Indigenous Language Media and Democracy in Africa module derives from the last objective. It seeks to place indigenous-language media in Africa in a particular historical context with a view to highlighting their role in enhancing the participation of Africans in the political process in their local environs.
The four-course syllabus is a response to the need for an indigenised, highly contextualised teaching and learning materials on various aspects of reporting Africa. It takes its cue from the UNESCO Model Curricula for Journalism Education, which outlines, in part, core competencies in journalism as knowledge of national and international political, economic, cultural, religious and social institutions, and of current affairs, history and geography.
The UNESCO Model Curricula is emphatic on the importance of a contextualised understanding and application of journalism; it recommends various electives for meeting the needs of the varied social contexts in which journalism is researched, taught and practiced. Thus, in some sense, the Reporting Africa syllabus reflects the spirit of the UNESCO Model Curricula.
While the Indigenous Language Media and Democracy in Africa module has been chosen as a starting point, other modules will follow. Similar consultative meetings on the implementation of other aspects of the syllabus are expected to be held with different centres of excellence/reference in Africa.