Sunday, November 2, 2014

Belarusian State University: My Alma Mater

Dr. Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal
Former Lecturer of Journalism, Peoples Campus, RR Campus, TU.

I have had good innings in print journalism and journalism education in Kathmandu before I moved to the United States in 2002. I worked for five months as the assistant editor at the English Desk at the National News Agency of Nepal -- Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS), as sub-editor and then associate editor of The Rising Nepal for about 11 years and as a lecturer of journalism at the Peoples Campus for over 10 years and the credit goes to Belorussian  State University and its school of journalism (Faculty of Journalism).

Well, Belorussian State University (BSU and its school of journalism) is my Alma Mater. After completing my Preparatory Faculty (intensive learning of Russian language for a year) in Odessa, Ukraine for six months and in Donetsk, Ukraine for another six months, I was admitted to the Faculty of Journalism at the BSU in Minsk, Belarus in 1980 and in 1985 I successfully completed and passed the Masters Degree in Journalism. I was admitted to Ph D program in journalism at the BSU Journalism Faculty in 1986 and I successfully defended the Ph D at the School of Journalism at the Moscow State University in 1989 paving the way for me to become the first Ph D in Journalism in Nepal. But who is the first Masters Degree holder in Journalism in Nepal? As far as I know, senior politician as well as journalist Nilambar Acharya was the first Nepali person to earn the Masters Degree in Journalism from the Peoples Friendship University in Moscow back in early 1970s.

In a way, the Nepalese journalism education will be indebted to Belarusian State University for producing first Ph Ds in journalism in Nepal and half a dozen M. As in journalism in 1980s when there was not a single college that could provide Masters Degree in journalism in Nepal.

Anyway, I consider myself a proud alumnus of Belorussian State University. I remember Belorussian State University, back then, in 1980s was truly an international university with hundreds of foreign students coming from across the world. It is to be noted that more than 4,000 foreign students from over 102 nations of the world had studied at the BSU when Belarus was a part of the former Soviet Union until 1992.

Belorussian State University which today is a top rated higher educational establishment in the Republic of Belarus was established on Oct 30, 1921, and the Faculty of Journalism was created in 1967. There were at least five professors cum doctors at the Faculty of Journalism of BSU at that time followed by scores of associate professors with Ph D degrees. Taking a trip down memory lane, I remember  there were foreign students from about 40 countries at the entire Journalism Faculty at that time. I still remember the excellent teaching approaches of late prof Bulachky, prof Ivan Ivanovich Sachenko, Associate Professors Valery Shein, Nina Tikhonova and Angelina Rudenko and so on.

My class boasted of students coming from 22 different countries. I could imagine the difficulties and challenges faced by the professors lecturing in Russian to the diverse audience speaking more than 25 languages and coming from totally different cultures of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The precondition for quality education, I think, is a commitment to developing an appropriate teaching and learning environment, where teachers, students, learning materials and aids are properly mobilized, and BSU's Journalism School had it all. Even in 1970-1980s I remember, BSU's Journalism Faculty had its own Photography Department with Dark Room facilities, TV Broadcasting Section and Radio Broadcasting Section. Each student was required to possess a camera.

However, journalism education started in Nepal with the launching of two-year IA classes in journalism at the Ratna Rajya Campus in 1976. Later, IA classes in Journalism were launched at the Peoples Campus as well in 1986. These two colleges were, pretty much, the educational establishments which provided journalism education until 2000s. Prior to my moving to the United States in 2002, I was involved as a lecturer of journalism at both the Peoples and RR Campus.

Tremendous strides have been made towards the development of media education in Nepal. Today. more than 250 colleges of Nepal have been running journalism classes and, at least, five of them run Masters Course in Journalism.  It goes without saying that journalism education is gaining more quantitative growth than the required qualitative development. There is no doubt that qualitative and skilled journalism education is the quintessence of rapidly growing Nepalese media industry.

Speaking of BSU, three Nepalese persons had obtained Ph D degrees in journalism having enrolled at the BSU's Faculty of Journalism:(1) Rabin Man Shakya (2) Gita Maiya Shrestha and (3) late Achyut Babu Koirala. BSU alumnus Prabal Raj Pokhrel is associate professor at the Central Department of Journalism, TU and another BSU journalism alumnus Ramji Neupane is also working in media field.

*I value opinion. Please provide your feedback by posting a comment below.
**Shakya is also State Education Director, NRNA-USA Oregon Chapter, Portland, USA

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