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The launch of the first internationally recognised journalism degree in Somalia

The launch event of the new journalism degree in Somalia

On the 2nd of March, the Somali National University hosted a launch of the new degree curriculum to inform that a Somali university now offers an internationally recognised BA degree in journalism.

In 2017, the Somali National University re-opened its Department of Journalism after 26 years’ closure due to civil war and security concerns. This was a major achievement and a boost to the media industry as few media professionals in the country had received journalism education and were facing severe challenges such as a high level of insecurity, lack of resources and government interference.

However, there was a need to review the curriculum. With support from Fojo Media Institute and International Media Support (IMS), Professor Kaarle Nordenstreng, Tampere University in Finland, together with Professor Ari Heinonen and journalist Peik Johansson were contracted to review the curriculum.

The review process started in 2021 with a questionnaire to teachers and students enrolled in the journalism programme at Somali National University to assess the current courses included in the programme. The second step was to divide the courses into five thematic categories – languages, society, research, media theory and media practice – to get an overview of the programme. Following this assessment, some courses were dismissed, and others were introduced to create a revised curriculum in line with the UNESCO model for journalism curriculum and that meets international standards for a BA degree in Journalism.

The final, and most important stage, was to carry out a detailed examination of all course descriptions and have in-depth discussions about each course with Faculty Dean Abdulkadir Mohamed Diesow, the current Department Head and the teachers concerned.

”We utilised the technical possibilities and had online meetings in which we went through the curriculum course by course. We had fruitful discussions and today I am very pleased that we managed to finalise the curriculum”, aid Kaarle Nordenstreng at the official launch on 2nd March at Jazeera Palace Hotel in Mogadishu.

There were several prominent speakers at the launch. Mr Ismail Yusuf Osman, Acting Director General for the Ministry of Education, Culture and Higher Education, and Mr Abdirahim Isse Addow, Director for Human Resources and Training of the Ministry of Information, spoke at the launch on behalf of their respective ministries. Other speakers included Hassan Omar Mahadallah, Rector of Somali National University, Abdulkadir Diesow, Dean of the Faculty of Social Science at Somali National University, and Farah Omar Nur, Secretary General for the Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ).

The event also included a graduation ceremony for students enrolled in the 1- and 2-year diploma courses in journalism at Somali National University. The diploma courses are supported by Fojo and IMS and open to working journalists, ensuring the professionalisation of the journalist profession in Somalia. The journalists enrolled are working in the mornings and study in the afternoons.

“I am so happy to stand here before you today. We are very grateful to the teachers, the university and the international organisations that help us achieve our goals. We want to continue to study and achieve a formal education, and we also want to be empowered to make a positive impact in our society” and added on behalf of his classmates “We request for IMS and Fojo to assist on the continuation of our journalism education to a bachelor level.”, said Abdimalik Abdulkadir Abdullahi, a graduate from the 1-year diploma course.

The new curriculum will be used when the semester starts in March, 2023. To ensure it is properly implemented, Kaarle Nordenstreng visited Somali National University to attend  several meetings with the teachers a few days before the launch. With support from Fojo and IMS, the Somali National University will also be able to purchase the textbooks included in the new curriculum.

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