BY VICTOR BWIRE
The number of universities and colleges offering journalism and media studies in Kenya has been growing in big numbers, while the industry has been complaining about the quality and relevance of some of the courses being offered.
Editors have for example raised issues on the skills imparted in the journalism products, standards in the institutions and the credibility of the courses. Indeed, there is no single standard training curriculum for journalists in Kenya currently.
This is set to change very soon as the Media Council of Kenya has prepared a national standardised curriculum for all diploma and certificate trainings in journalism that will shortly be launched. All colleges will be required to use the curriculum and the examinations will be handled in collaboration with the Kenya National Examinations Council. Already, the curriculum is being validated by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) department at the Ministry of Education, while the Commission for Higher Education has already given it a clean bill of health.
The curriculum provides for in addition to the traditional course units specifically industry driven courses and lays emphasis on specialisation for the trainees. It comes with specific tailored course teaching modules that seek to fill in the competence gaps that the industry has been yearning for. The MCK has set up an industry led team for college inspection and accreditation that will move around the country to ensure training institutions have the requisite qualified tutors and equipment. There is also a team for examinations that will work closely with KNEC on exams setting and marking.
While the curriculum development process at the Media Council of Kenya started three years ago, the commencement of the Media Council Act, No. 46 of 2013 lays the legal framework for the council to now regulate the standards of journalism training in Kenya.
Under the Media council Act 2013 section 6(1)(f), the Media Council of Kenya is required to set standards in consultation with the relevant training institutions, for professional education and training of journalists. Section 6(1)(n) provides that the council subjects to any other written law, consider and approve applications for accreditation by educational institutions that seek to offer courses in journalism.
Section 6(1)(h) of the Media Council Act 2013 requires that the council accredits journalists and foreign journalists by certifying their competence, authority or credibility against official standards based on the quality and training of journalists in Kenya including the maintaining of a register of journalists, media enterprises and such other related registers as it may deem fit and issuance of such document evidencing accreditation with the Council as the Council shall determine- This is meant to ensure that the Council enforces professionalism and regulates the conduct and discipline of journalists in the country.
With the law and the curriculum now ready, the training of journalism is set for a new phase, and probably, this will help in improving the profession and ensuring the training responds to industry needs.
(Bwire is the Deputy CEO & Programmes Manager at the Media Council of Kenya)