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Media Education: Journalists’ Teachers Identify Challenges, Solutions

Posted: Jul 31, 2015 at 12:22 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Judith Eshemitan,  Lagos


The performance of an individual highly depends on the nature and quality of training he has. This is one principle that applies to every profession in the society and the media is no exception as it is a profession that requires discipline, integrity and strict adherence to etiquettes and norms of the profession.

This incited Daily Independent to pay a visit to the Nigerian Institute of Journalism to find out the challenges facing the institution, and media education in Nigeria as a nation, reasons for the backdrop in the quality of media education in Nigeria, which is a major factor in the decadence of its products. An interactive session with academic staff of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism on the challenges facing media education in Nigeria and significance of acquiring formal education in mass media.

The Head of the Department of General Studies, Maureen Popoola, attributed the fall in standard of media education in the country to lack of interest shown by the students, reduced standard of education at the primary and secondary level, and dearth of books.

The senior lecturer revealed that due to the faulty foundation of the students, and insufficient acquired knowledge at the primary and secondary levels, lecturers at the institution have an increased job to do, stemming from the fact that they have to invest and spend quality time in brushing the students up on what they ought to have learned at lower levels, hereby impeding development.

She further stated that majority of the students, even at the post graduate level are deficient in both spoken and written English language. She noted that mass communication is a field that requires proficiency in the language in both media.

Popoola also listed dearth of credible books and insufficient library as major challenges journalism institutes are faced with in the country.

In this regard, she said: “It is a known fact that most of the good books are foreign, although our Nigerian authors are trying but real good books are foreign and expensive. Imagine a student who is yet to pay his/her fees and remunerations, still has to buy a text book worth N5000-N6000 upwards, and that is if and when you find them to purchase because they are out of reach.

She continued: “Books are the best source of information. Personally, I do not rely on the internet because it can sometimes be inaccurate.”

The H.O.D. further commended journalists for sustaining their commitment. “This is a trying time for journalists. I commend Nigerian journalists for their commitment during times of crisis and trying  times.”

Mr. Jack Amaso, a senior lecturer, agrees and admits that the society we live in is a certificate oriented one, and stated that a great deal of challenges faced by media education in Nigeria comes from the students themselves, and the system of the educational sector.

According to him, many Nigerians only crave the certificate and go to any available school willing to give them that. He said that the institution has a more than fair share of this attitudinal problem in students, one which is quite rampant in virtually every institution of higher learning in the country.

He said: “Students are not really interested in the content of what they are learning. They are only interested in the end result which is the certificate.”

Amaso said that as an upcoming journalist, one should be willing to attempt aspects of journalism that has never been veered into by any one before; if it has, one should strive to do something out of the ordinary and be more creative, because the passion is what brings out the best in a journalist.

He also regretted the intentions of some of the students, which he described as financially consciousness.

He said: “Most of the students we tutor are more financially conscious than professionally driven.”

Another major constraint is funding. This however, according to him, is not an error on the part of the student, but a failure of the educational system.

The senior lecturer hopes that sooner than later, corporate organizations will be interested in investing in media institutions in the country, so they will not only be funded by the government.

This he says would enhance the standard and quality of media education in Nigeria.

“We are hoping for a time when we will have full subventions from the private sectors, and corporate organizations, so that management can plan.

“Such assistance makes planning a lot easier, and as well encourages the management to be more creative.”

According to him, not only will joint funding of both the public and private sector boost the morale of the institutions’ management, but also will it enhance productivity as it will enable better, more efficient and effective teaching.

He said: “For now, we are strictly on our own, but I believe help is on the way.”

Amaso also stressed the necessity of urgency in addressing and eliminating these loopholes, which pose threats to the development of professionals in the field.

In doing this, he points out the advantages of the institution, and its importance to the media profession.

He said: “This institution is of immense importance to journalism, this is because in this institute, the provost and academic staff of the school is actually grounded in journalism.

“We endeavour to organize professional seminars once or twice in a month, where resource persons come and actually talk to the students.

“We give them leverage, but it still boils down to the individual students, because you can get leverage and either mess it up or use it for self development, so as to enable you stand out from the crowd.

“Look for an aspect and become a master in it.

The passion is what matters. You may not have studied journalism or mass communication in school, but your passion in it can drive you to be better in it than one who has a degree in it.”

According to him, while in school, one is taught the principles of journalism, but passion is what compels one to develop an area of comparative advantage and become a master in it thereby applying those principles in it.

He said: “Dive into a virgin area so that you do not replicate.

Discipline yourself, research and find out what others are not doing right. Look at other sectors that have not been developed. Develop yourself in you chosen field. Do not limit yourself to areas that have been over flogged.

“Mass communication is a vehicle, you as a journalist have to determine your passenger because it’s one thing to be trained in reporting and another to have a content in reporting.

“School is behind the industry so if you want to remain relevant, you have to find and understand where the industry is going, when you do, self development is the next step which is a personal responsibility.”

He suggested that the time has come when students should be required to develop interest in a particular area so that when they are taught the theories of mass communication, the student would have done research and personal work in that area.