Aga Khan University diversifies courses to include journalism
Posted Friday, March 19 2010 at 00:00
The Aga Khan University is to launch a graduate school of media and communications in Nairobi to offer specialised training to journalists, the institution’s founder, His Highness the Aga Khan, said on Thursday.
The move will widen the range of subjects offered by the institution, diversifying from its primary focus on health sciences and education.
The plan to open the school next year has not only raised hopes of increased opportunities for enhancing skills and qualifications of people working in East Africa’s media industry, but is also likely to raise competition in Kenya’s widening higher education sector currently teeming with new or expanded universities and colleges.
Speaking at the two-day Pan-Africa Media Conference in Nairobi during celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Nation Media Group, the Aga Khan said the school would offer masters degrees in media studies dedicated to advancing the excellence of media performance and strengthening of ethical media practices throughout the developing world.
He said the school would create a forum for conducting and disseminating cutting edge research that would help shape public communication in decades ahead.
“The school will be driven, above all, by absolute commitment to quality. It will have several components. It will offer a masters degree programme, serving recent university graduates as well as media owners, managers, and mid-career journalists. It will also offer continuing education classes — short courses designed to enhance media skills and to nurture media values,” he said.
It is anticipated that the school will be formally launched in 2011, although some of its activities may begin later this year.
The Aga Khan University is private, autonomous, chartered in 1983 and offers courses in health sciences.
It aims to promote human welfare through research, teaching and community service.
The university has campuses and programmes in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Syria and the United Kingdom.
Its facilities include teaching hospitals, nursing schools and a medical college. According to the Aga Khan, the school will establish a special programme in media management — one of the first in the developing world — devoted to enhancing robust leadership of media institutions.
“We foresee, for example, a strong emphasis on using the case study method in our courses as many law and business schools now do, drawing lessons from concrete historical examples. We intend to develop case studies which grow out of African media experiences, while also reflecting global best practices. These case studies will address recurrent media issues such as crisis management, trivialisation, incompetent analysis, and corruption,” said the Aga Khan.
The school will be driven by public agenda for a free Press, creating a forum for carrying out research in media, he said.
“In a world of growing complexity, journalists must increasingly understand the substantive, sophisticated dimensions of the fields on which they report — from medical and environmental sciences to economic and financial disciplines to legal and constitutional matters. And a new generation of African media entrepreneurs could well be born from programmes which blend economic and media disciplines. We hope and trust the new school will contribute to achieving the objectives,” he said.