African journalism schools to benefit from UNESCO partnership with Google News Initiative

This week saw the launch of a partnership that will engage 100 journalism schools around Africa in taking stock of what it means to be “excellent”, in today’s changing world.
It is part of UNESCO’s global initiative for excellence in journalism education, within the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

“We are delighted to be able to roll out this action with the support of the Google News Initiative (GNI)”, said IPDC Secretary, Guy Berger, who is also UNESCO’s director for strategies and policies in the field of communication and information.

He was speaking at the start of Google’s “GNI for Africa” week, along with Matt Brittin, the company’s President for Business and Operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa, who commented that the pandemic has shown how important access is to quality journalism.

Running over 18 months, the project will engage African journalism educators in defining contemporary “excellence” in their roles, and encourage them to use the definition to assess what their institutions can change to get closer to the ideal.

On this basis, the project will call for specific proposals, and the top 10 will receive grants of up to $16000 each, to move ahead in a practical way.

An online panel discussion about the project included Prof Monica Chibita, Dean, Faculty of Journalism, Media and Communication at Uganda Christian University. She signaled that journalism schools faced a shrinking news industry, and needed to educate students to also be able to do journalism taking advantage of other opportunities and platforms.

Such an example was presented on the panel by Kobus Louwrens, Co-Founder of Food For Mzansi”, a citizen journalism platform based in South Africa which produces untold stories about farming.

Khadija Patel, chair of the board of the International Press Institute, highlighted changes in how young people access and consume news, and why this challenged what goes into journalism education.

Over the years, the IPDC has supported scores of projects involving the training of journalists using UNESCO educational resources. The Programme has developed a series of model curricula and handbooks under the UNESCO Series on Journalism Education, which has become an important repository for journalism education and training materials of high-quality standards.

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