UNESCO Issues New Report on Promoting Excellence in Journalism Education in Africa

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has issued a new report in which it documents its initiative to set and implement standards for quality journalism education across Africa in a project that spanned two phases between November 2022 and March 2024.

Titled “Promoting Excellence in Journalism Education in Africa”, the 28-page report shares insights from a project led by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), funded by the Google News Initiative (GNI), and implemented in partnership with the Wits Centre for Journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, both in South Africa.

According to UNESCO, from November 2022 to March 2024, the initiative promoted excellence in journalism education across the continent following two phases.

The first phase focused on developing “criteria for excellence” in journalism education in Africa through a consultative process across the continent involving over 100 journalism educators from 80 journalism schools in 37 countries.

The criteria serve as a compass enabling schools to self-assess their programmes with a questionnaire and identify areas for improvement tailored to diverse regional contexts.

The second phase involved strengthening the journalism curriculum of 10 selected universities with a 15,500 USD grant each to implement a project that responds to gaps identified through the self-assessment.

The report said over 100 African journalism instructors in 37 countries participated in a series of regional consultations and shared their views on what excellence in journalism means.

Following the consultations, five key criteria were identified with 58 questions. Journalism educators in Africa were then invited to evaluate how well their institution is responding to these specific criteria for excellence, taking into account their curricula, outreach, and internal capacity building and development.

UNESCO’s Series on Journalism Education, which is supported by the IPDC, aims to provide journalism educators with the knowledge and tools to transmit essential skills to the next generation of media professionals.

The initiative provides not only specific handbooks on curricula but also focuses on challenging topics.

The series, according to UNESCO, comprises 20 handbooks, available free of charge, that can be used by journalism educators, trainers, and practitioners.

To complement the handbooks on journalism education, webinars, and MOOCs are available in IPDC’s Resource Hub.