Strengthened Journalism Education of Students in Rwanda

Educating the Rwandan Journalists of Tomorrow. This is the catch phrase for the new capacity building programme launched at the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Rwanda in Kigali in September 2015.

The phrase was minted by a group of students and they are now looking forward to a four year programme that will strengthen their education and provide them with new opportunities for the future.

As the collaboration between the Fojo Media Institute and the School of Journalism and Communication (SJC) was initiated in Rwanda, the launch itself offered many surprises. The students of the school were very active in the preparations for the event, with assistance from Fojo and the SJC staff.

A student representative, Fiona Muthoni, delivered one of the most appreciated speeches:
“Journalism is my passion. It instills fire in my belly and makes me feel alive. I chose journalism because for me there isn’t any other choice”, said Fiona Muthoni as she ended her passionate speech about her hopes for her future career.

The launch also included speeches by representatives from the SJC, Fojo, the University of Rwanda and the Swedish Embassy. It also contained video recorded greetings from other journalism education institutions in the region, and statements from SJC students.

“I think this programme will strengthen the School of Journalism and Communication and it will enable students to get more skills and professionalism”, said student Sylvie Umwere.

Many Rwandan journalists lack the necessary education and resources to carry out professional and independent reporting. Underpaid jobs, lack of resources at educating institutions and unawareness of ethical principles add up to prevent reporters from being the independent ears and voice of the public.

“The project has come at the right time to strengthen capacity for the SJC in line with the dynamic needs of the media. Creating professional media industry linkages and developing programs that will respond to needs of the expanding media sector will be a big boost for the school”, said the Ag Dean of SJC, Joseph Njuguna in his speech and he added:
“I believe the project will offer the much-needed exposure to best practices for staff and students in the region and beyond.”

Fojo will collaborate with the SJC to strengthen the general capacity of the institution. Over a four year period the teachers will be supported in academic and professional advancement. The curriculum and syllabus will be further developed and the needs of the students will be monitored and assessed. The Swedish government is financing the programme.

Bo Göransson, Head of the Board of Fojo, underlined that the goal for the watchdog role of the media is a better society, helping to build stronger and more effective institutions, at the same time as serving as a vehicle for civic participation:
“Free, independent media help ensure greater exchange of correct information, improved opportunities for public debate and the exchange of political views and ideas. This can in turn help reduce the risk of conflict and corruption.”

The level of ambition among the students is high. A group of six female and six male students from the 1st and 2nd years got a head start in what is to come when for several moths they got to work with the preparations for the launch. Together with students from the Department for Creative Design they put together a graphic profile, slogan, logo and social media tools that will be used throughout the programme.

The programme has already gained exposure within the Rwandan media industry. The major broadcasting channels Rise & Shine and Flash Radio interviewed students about their thoughts about the programme and the major newspapers had reporters to cover the launch.

- An old teacher of mine had heard my interview on the radio. He called and congratulated me for becoming professional so fast, said Festus Ndungutse, a second year student.

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Strengthened Journalism Education of Students in Rwanda

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