The graduation ceremony which took place at the Paradise Suites hotel was being hailed among the media fraternity as a solid achievement, ending a difficult era when higher education in the field was only possible abroad.
The executive secretary of the GPU Gibairu Janneh said, among other things , the whole idea of a journalism school started way back in 2009 after the GPU realised that the ad-hoc way of training journalists is not what is anticipated by society as it will not better prepare them to report within the wider framework of national development.
”So in 2009 the GPU partnered with the Gambia Media Support (Games) to start a pilot programme called media for development which served as a feasibility programme to look at the pros and cons of structured learning of journalism in The Gambia,” Janneh said.
He said that pilot project ended with the graduation of students last year but the lessons learned were brought back to the drawing board and a partnership with the National Training Authority, NTA looked into the feasibility of structured learning for journalism education in The Gambia. “That partnership went into motion and the GPU and Games, funded by the Danish government, collaborated to hire an expert to develop standards for journalism education in The Gambia under the Gambia Skills Qualification(GSQ ) framework as well as a curriculum for journalism education under the technical and vocational programme, all of which culminated in the accreditation by the NTA of the GPU School of Journalism to provide journalism education for Gambians,” Janneh said. He reported that 20 students began the programme but only 12 were able to complete it for different reasons.
Almamy Fanding Taal, board chairman of the School, gave the keynote speech advising the students that paper qualifications or technical competencies they qualify, usually don’t actually do anything, rather it is human beings who must develop habits that can changed the world.
Newly-appointed Information minster Sheriff Bojang who was himself a lecturer of English at the school repeated his mantra that ‘journalism is not a profession as such but a craft and like all other crafts, one must first go through process of apprenticeship to be good at it.’ He formally launched the students’ newspaper The Star published for the occasion, calling it a reflection of the work done at the school. Bojang enthused the students to go out and become real journalists. He thanked the course director Ralphina Almeida for trusting him to become a teacher in the school.
Talibeh Hydara, who topped the class in almost all subjects on behalf of his colleagues thanked the course director Almeida and all who contributed to the project. The occasion was chaired by George Christensen and attended by lecturers, a cross section of senior Gambian journalists and relatives of the graduands.]]>