Mass communication education: Taking firmer roots

The stereotype of the basic course taught by junior media faculty members is not accurate‚ and that the growth in the use of technology is not satisfactorily enhancing opportunities to connect with the professional media world

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LAL DEOSA RAI
The banyan tree of mass communication education has become three and a half decades old and it continues to branch out and strike roots deep down into the fertile soil in the Kathmandu Valley. There is always a rush for this curriculum. Enrolment records show that during the last three and a half decades several thousand students have admitted themselves in the RR Campus only, although now the trend is declining owing to the phasing out of the PCL level. But, the Plus 2 institutions are bearing the brunt of this phase-out policy. Good sign of private initiative!

Two competing traditions in mass communication education are influencing the field of mass communication education in Nepal too. Academic institutions prepare the promising students for the study of the broader field of mass communication career, while media institutions directly recruit promising undergraduates, with or without training in journalism, for their journalistic workplaces. There is a rush for direct recruitment offered by prestigious dailies, weeklies and broadcasting media in no less tempo than that for enrolment for university education. Many students are found to be part-time news reporters. The movement towards communication convergence and online journalism has accelerated the interest both in investment and use of applied communication, creating thereby a new demand for IT orientation in existing curricula as well as in online employment avenues .

The definition of mass communication education is changing to accommodate the concept of telematic communication. A new challenge has emerged in the field of mass communication education field. Should practical skills dominate the curriculum? Should media research be viewed with disdain? Without minimizing the importance of practical journalism training or in-house system of preparing internees for the job, it can be argued that the mission of any university faculty should be directed towards solving the larger problems of the society and culture, and of society and culture in developing or least developed countries..

Mass communication educators should have a clearer vision of how graduate-level education will effectively address broader societal needs of Nepal. How to allow the students in the mass communication master’s degree programme to opt for courses of interdisciplinary content that might expose them to areas in which they might eventually land themselves. How to develop curricular approaches without denying the central role the new media can play in future media education .

Many observations of responsible members in the field of education in Nepal point out that the stereotype of the basic course taught by junior media faculty members is not accurate, and that the growth in the use of technology is not satisfactorily enhancing opportunities to connect with the professional media world. It is said, for instance, that better professional news photographers are produced in the practical digital lab of the media houses. Photo journalism students should now be trained in the art and science of instagram. All societies, young or old, have ostensibly become mobile and instantaneous.

Tribhuvan University has been one prestigious educational institution that is committed to promote, with limited resources, the cause of quality media education in the country. The development of curricula for undergraduate and graduate studies stands a testimony to its consistent commitment to mass communication education development in the country. Still, admittedly, the quality of mass communication education has not been up to the desired standard. But it can be argued that the case of Central Department of Mass Communication cannot be isolated from the general educational environment in the country.

More importantly, in recent years the Government of Nepal has provided substantial funding resources to the Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus for media education development plan and programme of the Central Department, and in fact a new building has recently come up under this project. However, ”the achievements so far in education and mass media development efforts have not been adequate and satisfactory. It has been realized that unless the overall system of education improves qualitatively media education alone cannot improve itself to the desired extent.” Now that the Master level degree programme has been launched and also positive steps have been taken to lay a stronger foundation for its healthier growth and expansion within the framework of Tribhuvan University in competitive educational environment, it can be said that a complete modern journalism and mass communication education system has been rooted firmly in the country and is ready to meet the future challenges.

There are some issues that crop up again and again in regard to qualitative improvement of formal mass communication education in Nepal. They may be summarized in three terms :

1. implementation of eligibility criteria for students’ entrance;
2. improvement in university examination system, and
3. strengthening the central department of mass communication as an independent entity within the framework of Tribhuvan University.

source:RAI,LAL DEOSA(2013),"Mass communication education: Taking firmer roots", The Himalayan Times,3 Sep 2013
photo/art: The Himalayan Times

2013-09-04 | EducateNepal

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