The National Training Authority (NTA), has formally accredited the GPU School of Journalism to provide journalism education in the country. According to dispatch from the executive director of the Union, this is an unprecedented development in a country that has never had a formal structure for journalism education.
Under the terms and conditions of its licence, the GPU School of Journalism is mandated to “offer journalism education up to a diploma level within the framework of the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in The Gambia.”
Poor Training Weakens Professionalism
Because of the lack of a journalism school, most of the working journalists in the country are either without a formal education in journalism or professional training. The few who have the requisite qualifications or training have been educated abroad. Newcomers to the media have sporadic opportunities of mastering basic journalism as well as being updated on international developments in professional methods, standards, technologies. The upshot is that journalists in The Gambia are despised as join-the-lists, an epithet that suggests incompetence, Gibairu Janneh, the executive Director of the GPU said.
The Turning Point
However, with the coming into being of the GPU School of Journalism, the GPU believes tht Gambian journalism is now poised to redeem itself and entrench professionalism finally.
The school has its roots in a two-year Danida-funded pilot project that ran from 2010 to 2012. Known as the Professional Reporter Programme (PRP), the pilot project sought to raise standards of Gambian journalism up to international level. Under the tutelage of senior Danish journalists and local experts, 12 trainees graduated in February 2012 to rapturous acclaim across the country and beyond.
“Unlike other training opportunities that had been offered in the country previously, the PRP provided depth and scope, coherence and system, innovation and creativity in its curriculum, pedagogy and methodology, thus positioning itself as a model for journalism education in the country. Because of its eclectic and practical nature, the PRP was lauded as “a revolution” in journalism education in The Gambia,” Mr. Janneh said.
Reacting to this development, Demba Ali Jawo, former chirman of the GPU said this is indeed positive development which all those associated with the GPU should be proud of. “It is yet another feather on the cap of the GPU and Gambian journalism and we should strive to make the best use of the opportunity it avails to us to elevate the professionalism of Gambian journalists to a higher notch,” Jawo said.
Yahya Al-Matarr Jobe, Secretary eneral of the National Commission for UNESCO in Banjul, simply congratulated the Union for the successful registration.
Lars Moller, journalism trainer and chairman of the Danish-based Gambia Media Support *GAMES) said “a lot af work is off your shoulders now, Gibairu. You have worked hard for this. And the students will benefit – with a certified diploma, Inshallah.
A Thorough Education
The GPU School of Journalism naturally builds on the PRP’s pedigree that follows a triple path: teaching journalism and media specialization along with general knowledge, analytical skills and English language skills. The education combines classroom sessions, distance learning and actual journalism production for print and radio on various development issues such as health, climate change, agriculture and poverty, public policy and public administration, the law and the legal system.