The Director of the Catholic Media Center has called on the Ministry of Education (MOE) to introduce media studies within the national school curriculum for students beginning from 7th to 12th grades.
Reverend Father Ambrose Dayoga Kroma made the suggestion over the weekend at program marking the official launch of the youth media education program (YMEP) VERITAS Newsletter held at St. Kizito Catholic Church in Paynesville.
He said the idea behind teaching mass communications (media studies) at the high school level is not solely intended to make students Journalists or media persons.
“Students study history not necessarily to become a historian or mathematics to become mathematician, maybe in the future, they may take up one those professions. Nonetheless, they will study all these subjects to understand their surroundings and to develop an understanding of the concepts, which may help them to deal with various situations as they move ahead in life,” he said.
He noted that likewise media studies should also be taught along with other subjects as it is an important aspect of students’ lives.
He said media is not only a source of entertainment for young people as is sometimes “erroneously portrayed, but also a source of education and students knowingly or unknowingly learn a lot from the continuous flow of media messages in their lives so media must be introduced as a subject in all schools across the country.”
Father Kroma said the present democratic landscape in the country has allowed for the proliferation of radio stations, and therefore, it is sad to note that many of the radio stations in terms of content remained one-dimensional with a greater focus directed towards negative politics, which is often characterized by “Lazy journalism.”
He asserted that while it remains true that within the country pluralized media landscape, there are many journalists emerging today than in time past, the basics in journalism however, with respect to reading, pronunciation, writing, diction, punctuation and ethics are still a major challenge.
“Radio, I believe, is so much more than a forum for negative politics and lazy journalism as a vital instrument that impact people in so powerful a manner radio reaches more people in more places than any other medium. So it is a bridge of communication for remote communities, developing regions and vulnerable populations, which at times have no other connection to the outside world. It is within this domain that I am most convinced that radio, when use to its maximum capacity can become a powerful and transformative instrument for the promotion of justice, peace, healing, reconciliation, social counseling, inter religious dialogue and tolerance, social and economic advancements of all.”
Giving a pivotal role of radio, Father Kroma indicated that in a post conflict nation like Liberia, the need to groom and train potential journalists at an early age with a new sense of direction, a new approach, new understanding and a new focus on radio cannot be over emphasized.
Hence, he said, “it is in light of this conviction that we at the Catholic Media Center have recognized the urgency and importance to establish a youth Media Education Program, which we intend to go all across the country.”
The program, he said is intended to identify potential students, who are interested in campus journalism in our school system to have them begin their practice from their campus-based media clubs, and liaising with Radio VERITAs to plan and produce programs that have direct impact on human conditions such as the environment, economy, starting small business, agriculture, health, gender, issues, the vulnerable elderly within the communities.
The Deputy Minister of Education, Aagon F.Tingba, has meanwhile promised to work along with the ministry to ensure that media-related subject is introduced in the curriculum.
“We will have a curriculum review next year, so I assure Father Kroma that I will forward his request to the committee for media studies to form part of the ministry’s academic curriculum,” he assured the students.
Mr.Tingba used the occasion to urge the students to focus their minds as they wish to pursue a goal in whatever field in the media to make Liberia a better country in their reportage.
For his part, the station manager of Radio VERITAS, Timothy Ben, encouraged the students to put their God-giving talents to use, adding that from their performance the program will reach in other places like Buchanan, Grand Bassa County and Gbarnga, Bong County among other places.