The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Beirut Office, are developing a safety curriculum for media students and universities in the Middle East.
A workshop was held in Jordan on January 26, 2015 in cooperation with the Jordanian Media Institute (JMI) and the Jordanian Press Association which included 10 media school lecturers from the region to discuss a draft safety curriculum.
The workshop reviewed a draft safety curriculum and lesson plan in line with IFJ and UNESCO. The curriculum will be developed into a fully accredited academic course to be taught in the universities across the Arab world and the Middle East.
According to Abedlnasser Najjar, IFJ Executive Committee member, media lecturer in Palestinian universities and one of the participants in the workshop, “Providing safety skills and knowledge to media students is crucial to building a culture of safety for media in the region. This is yet another leading initiative taken by the IFJ and partners to strengthen the safety of journalists in one of the most difficult regions in the world. It will increase awareness among younger generations of journalists to the risks associated with reporting in dangerous zones which is crucial to their survival.”
An extensive safety training programme for journalists in the region was launched by the IFJ in 2011. The training programme included a Training of Trainers programme and since then the IFJ and its affiliates have trained up to 1500 journalists in some of the most dangerous countries in the world for them.
“UNESCO is the only UN agency entrusted with supporting Freedom of Expression,” said George Awad, programme officer at UNESCO Beirut office. “Through its communication and information sector, UNESCO initiated a safety of journalists’ action plan that was then adopted by the United Nations system in 2012. Since then, UNESCO has been leading the UN efforts in putting this plan into action, working with member states, media institutions and civil societies on legal, infrastructure and capacity building frameworks”.
“Moreover, as a leader in Education, it was a normal step for UNESCO to work with the academic sector to institutionalize the safety of journalists’ resources and trainings into the curriculum.”
Princess Rym al Ali, the founder of JMI who joined the workshop as a guest speaker stressed the importance of providing training and protection for local journalists and freelancers covering conflicts while sharing her experience in reporting from conflict zones including her work as CNN correspondent in Baghdad in 2001-2004.
Participants include international experts and lecturers from universities in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Jordan. The curriculum has been drafted by Clare Arthurs, an Australian-based media trainer, safety expert and media lecturer and reviewed by Magda Abu Fadel, a journalist and media trainer. This programme has been supported by the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO, the Norwegian ministry of foreign affairs and the Government of Sweden.