Training in the media profession is finally coming onshore with proper standards set out by the National Council for Technical Education (NACTE) working in close collaboration with the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT).
The training format or programne will be used by all schools and colleges in the business of preparing students for either certificates or higher qualifications in journalism so that all those carry certificates in that field live up to expectations. It is a cry heard for many years in media and other circles.
The jointly prepared curriculum was put up by NACTE and MCT after careful and intense engagement by editors and various other senior practitioners in the media, including a five-day workshop for journalism trainers in Mbeya last year organised by the latter council.
MCT executive secretary Kajubi Mukajanga admitted at the workshop that MCT was without the legal mandate to close down journalism institutions found wanting, warning however that it would expose those performing below standard.
This anomaly should be getting a remedy, thanks to the format drawn up and endorsed with the full involvement of the two councils as the one fit for use by all middle-cadre media training institutions.
For more than ten years the media profession has been its own bitterest critic even as various administrators in public institutions and the private sector have raised an alarm over the situation.
Tanzania has witnessed a sharp rise in the number of schools or colleges offering NACTE-level media training, many without any professional standards to speak of. It was often just a set timeframe where anyone recruited as a tutor would give lessons and then, whatever such tutor set as an exam and marked it would be recognised as a qualification. In this manner and inadequacy of the output were often explicitly glaring.
With a common curriculum in place, the next few years should see a rapid smoothening of teaching levels and the sort of practicals that students will be exposed, and thus the level of competence they will attain.
It is to be expected that the Education and Vocational Training ministry, NACTE and MCT will use the ‘soft approach’ to the issue by giving institutions a grace period in which to upgrade their training in relation to staffing and programming as a whole. What however seems to be assured is that each institution has to adopt the new format right now, and start using it.
This innovation is yet another milestone in the life of MCT as a media watchdog, moving from a quality supervisor limited to preaching the values of the profession to being fitted with teeth that bite the errant.
With this, the council stands as a role model for other professional bodies, particularly those legally under NACTE, can also put their houses in order.
The involvement of professional bodies fills the gap in both skills and administrative presence for the registration and accreditation council as it can’t staff itself sufficiently and look at every profession as consistently as expected.
It is our hope that, with this, journalism colleges will no longer have to borrow tutors, books, computers and stationery to impress NACTE inspection teams to pass them as fit for accreditation.