Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2017, 14:54 GMT

Afghan Journalist Training Reform One Step Closer

Publisher Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Publication Date 19 June 2013
Citation / Document Symbol ARR Issue 457
Cite as Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Afghan Journalist Training Reform One Step Closer, 19 June 2013, ARR Issue 457, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/51c95ccc4.html [accessed 17 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Journalism students at Afghan universities need to diversify beyond media studies in preparation for their careers, according to experts taking part in a debate hosted by IWPR on designing a framework for national curriculum for future reporters.

Veteran journalists from across Afghanistan came together with professors and lecturers from five universities - Herat, Kabul, Balkh, Khost and Nangarhar - for the June 8-13 meeting at IWPR's offices in Kabul, which was attended by Mohammad Osman Babury, Afghanistan's deputy higher education minister.

This was the second of two discussions which IWPR is hosting in preparation for the Kabul Journalism Conference, at which a framework for a standardised journalism curriculum for universities across Afghanistan will be agreed. (See Improving Journalism Courses at Afghan Universities on the first event. The plan was to hold three but the second and third were combined into one larger session.)

The conference will be run in conjunction with the ministry of higher education, Afghan universities, the US embassy and selected American universities.

The participating experts discussed possible courses and content, as well getting students of journalism to broaden their horizons by acquiring specialist knowledge of areas like economics or politics.

"One new decision made at this meeting was to create streams where students can study some specialised courses in their fourth year," Zia Rafat, a journalism lecturer at Kabul university, said. "In future we'll see more professional journalists working in specialist areas."

The five Afghan universities are collaborating with four American universities under the Afghanistan Journalism Education Enhancement Programme, funded by the United States embassy in Kabul, which is also funding the Kabul Journalism Conference project.

"For me, the most interesting and useful part of the conference was meeting other journalism professors from around the country," Sabra Stephens Ayres, who lectures at the American University of Afghanistan, said. "Whether we teach at state or private institutions, we all share common concerns about how to educate Afghanistan's next generation of journalists…. I feel I have made some good contacts in other universities, and I plan to stay in touch with them for future cooperation and possible projects with our students."

Deputy minister Babury called for the establishment of a steering committee representing the various university faculties of journalism which can continue to work with his ministry beyond the lifetime of the Kabul Journalism Conference project.

At the moment, journalism teaching at different Afghan universities varies widely, and there have been concerns that they do not always prepare students for working in the real world.

"In our work with Afghan journalists and the journalism schools, we have observed a lack of trust between the two," Noorrahman Rahmani, IWPR Afghanistan country director, said. "Most of the journalism graduates who have wanted to work for us have lacked the basic professional skills, because the things they were taught were either outdated or were no longer needed in the real world. We always felt there was a need to remove this gap by bringing these stakeholders together."

Kamal Sadat, who reports for Diwa radio and television in the southeastern Khost province, said he had felt apprehensive about attending yet another media workshop, "but when they said it was organised by IWPR, I felt optimistic, because the organisation has a good background in journalism. I was proved right... people who were really thinking about this country's young people had come together."

Participants were hopeful that the discussions would lead to a major shift in the way journalism was taught.

"I am sure the new curriculum will create a revolution in the journalism faculties at these five universities," said Adela Kabiri, a lecturer at Herat University.

Mohammad Asef Shinwari, a reporter who works in the east of the country, spoke about combining the latest technical advances with the specifics of Afghan journalism.

"Until now, the journalism taught in Afghanistan has been either traditional or completely imported, neither of which was good for us," he said. "This meeting [will lead to] new, imported curriculum methods being be used while positive aspects of the traditional curriculum are maintained."

Najiba Ayoubi, managing director of the Killid media group, said the debate would need to continue well beyond the current process of consultations. "The curriculum should be upgraded every year or two so as to align it with developments in international journalism," she said.

Copyright notice: © Institute for War & Peace Reporting

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