Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nepal's Media Education Making Tremendous Strides

By Dr Rabin Man Shakya
Former Lecturer of Journalism at Peoples Campus, RR Campus, TU.

Are chaotically changing Nepal and its people still enthralled with the changing media landscape despite  the boom of social media and digital journalism?  Well, judging by the increasing number of newspapers, radio stations and TV channels in Nepal, the answer will, likely, be "yes".

At a time when journalism industry is on the decline in developed countries like the US and Canada, the scope and relevance of the mass media like newspapers, radio and TV journalism are still on the rise in countries like India and Nepal and herein lies the relevance and significance of journalism education.

It goes without saying that journalism education is gaining more quantitative growth than the required qualitative development. There is no doubt that qualitative and skill-oriented journalism education is the quintessence of rapidly growing Nepalese media industry.

Well, there is no doubt that tremendous strides have been made towards the development of journalism education in Nepal. In fact, journalism education started in Nepal with the launching of two-year IA classes in journalism  at the Ratna Rajya Campus 1976. Later, IA classes in journalism were launched at the Peoples Campus as well in 1986. By 2002, the number of colleges offering journalism in higher secondary level in Nepal was 22 while that number reached 245 in 2011.  At present, there are five colleges which provide MA courses in journalism.

Likewise, enrollment of journalism students is also on the rise. In 2003, the number of journalism students in the plus two colleges was 493, while that figure was 5989 in 2011. No doubt, nation's oldest Central Department of Journalism under Tribhuvan University has been playing a Zeus-like role in the trajectory of Nepal's journalism education given its historical legacy.

Legacy is big for an institution like the Central Department of Journalism which has built the reputation of so many journalists in Nepal. But the high profile legacy also underscores some of the pitfalls of the Department. This is the Central Department which boasts of two professors of journalism. This is so far the only Department which is legally entitled and supposed to create Ph. Ds in journalism. But as of now, paradoxically, no teaching staff is still  a Ph. D. in the Department. Both the professors do not even have  Masters Degree in Journalism, much less a a doctoral degree. However,  I do not doubt about journalistic capabilities and credentials of the teaching staff of the Department.

One of the palpable problems of media education in Nepal is the lack of basic equipment and infrastructure. The precondition for qualitative journalism education is a commitment to developing an appropriate teaching and learning atmosphere,  where media educators, students, learning materials and equipment are properly mobilized.

The theoretical journalistic knowledge and lessons provided in the colleges do not still work in tandem to meet the ground realities of practical journalism in the media industry. Similarly, courses of study of journalism have to be amended to suit the changing scenario  by including contents on digital journalism and social media. It is not that the concerned authorities have ignored the problems in this respect, but it looks like they are moving ahead in the snails pace.

More focus should be accorded to practical reporting, practical editing and practical headline writing.Not just chapters, there should be separate and comprehensive course on editing and reporting. Likewise, journalism classes should be divided into Nepali language journalism and English language journalism.

*I value your 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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