Building excellence in Rwanda’s journalism education

A workshop of 50 academics, media leaders and journalism students has been hard at work brainstorming changes envisaged by the School of Journalism and Communication (SJC) at the University of Rwanda.

They swapped experiences in lively exchanges at a seminar held in Kigali on 28 January, sponsored by the Fojo Media Institute and Sweden, and attended by UNESCO’s Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, Guy Berger.

SJC and Fojo have a four-year programme to upgrade staff, revise the curriculum, improve relations with the Rwandan media, and strengthen the School’s involvement in networks.

One expected outcome is: “Trainers will help students understand media’s social, economic and political role in a democracy and make sure they are able to conduct professional journalism in an evolving media landscape.”

SJO’s acting Dean Joseph Njuguna and senior lecturer Dr Margaret Juuko, as well as Fojo’s Anki Wood, presented the School’s planned changes. The plans are based partly on a response to a unique needs analysis of stakeholders conducted by Transparency International Rwanda, and presented by the organization’s Caesar Handa.

In a keynote speech, Berger conveyed UNESCO’s initiative of global excellence in journalism education, founded on strengths within a journalism school, in its external relations, and its leadership and ability to look ahead.  “You can consider journalism education by comparing it to farming or cooking,” he stated, “but perhaps the metaphor of a celebration is the most appropriate”.

Additional presentations were made by Dr James Oranga of the University of Nairobi’s School of Journalism and Communication Studies, and by Carole Kimutai, managing editor of the Kenyan online news portal Tuko.