New journalism curriculum reinforces ‘industry ready’ learning

UCU journalism students have a discussion at the University Guild Park.
UCU journalism students have a discussion at the University Guild Park.

By Ivan Tsebeni

Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) Faculty of Journalism, Communication and Media Studies has adopted a new curriculum that aims at bridging the gap between training institutions and the practical world.

The curriculum implementation has started with the first-year students who joined the university for the Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Communication (BAJC) on March 1, 2021. Until its implementation, the journalism program at the Uganda Christian University (UCU) was called Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication (BAMC).

The faculty dean, Prof. Monica Chibita, said the changes in the curriculum are aimed at “shooting several birds with one stone.” Chibita noted that the first aim was to address the requirement of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) that curriculums should be revised every three years.

“But the faculty also has used the same opportunity to redirect the curriculum to address the questions of ethical practice, gender and the faculty’s performance,” she noted. “Our goal is to produce students who are industry-ready and ethical in practice.”

Building that houses leadership for the UCU Faculty of Journalism, Communication and Media Studies.
Building that houses leadership for the UCU Faculty of Journalism, Communication and Media Studies.

To achieve the goals, the faculty made changes in some of the course units.  The new course units introduced include Media and Information Literacy; Introduction to Journalism and Media Studies; Journalism and Political Communication; Economics and Business Journalism; Data Journalism; Media, Gender and Social Justice; and Understanding Journalism, Media and Communication.

Chibita said the new curriculum was approved by the university’s senate and NCHE, which allowed the faculty to launch it this semester, using blended learning.

Dr. Emily Comfort Maractho, the Head of Department of Journalism and Media Studies, said the faculty labors a lot to respond to the dynamic demands in the media industry.

She noted that the areas tackled under the new curriculum are of “great importance” in defining the future of journalism.

“We have introduced writing in almost every semester. We believe that the writing skills are helpful in restructuring the profession of journalism,” she said. “It has been our desire to improve journalism performance in Uganda.”

The changes in the curriculum have been welcomed by the journalism and communication students.

Marvian Kadu, a third-year student, said the curriculum will yield more and better results and lauded the faculty for what he called progressive transformation.

Andrew Bugembe, a second-year Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication student, said he expects the new curriculum to help them improve their writing skills, which he said is the ‘backbone’ of journalism.

“Without writing skills, a journalist is incomplete. It is encouraging to see the faculty giving it priority,” Bugembe said.

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