‘How government can help communication students’
Journalism institutions are the primary trainers of journalists for the media industry. Therefore, the finished products must meet the expectations of the operators of the industry – that is, media editors and owners, as well as the audience that consume media content.
However, subsisting mass communication education in the country appears to be under stress and somewhat inadequate in equipping students for the task.
In this exclusive chat, Head of Mass Communication Department, University of Lagos, Dr. Oloruntola Sunday, who is barely a year old in office told The Guardian that the learning conditions in Nigerian schools have contributed immensely to the poor performance of mass communication graduates among other factors.
According to Sunday, it is not enough to blame schools or lecturers for low performance of young journalists, as “the classrooms are not conducive for learning. For instance, there are over 200 students in a mass communication class in the University of Lagos. The ideal situation should be 25 students in a class to afford the lecturers time to pay attention to every student’s progress.
“Journalism is by practicing. In as much as one would want to blame lecturers for the poor performance, some students are very lazy and only wish to have a degree. They have no interest in the profession at all. Most of them want to work in the banks, oil companies and other places.”
Consequently, he said, “When they are given assignments, they dubbed just to pass. Every year, the number of students admitted is increasing, but do we have enough personnel to teach them effectively? The students need more assignments and more lecturers in the classrooms. It is for this same reason we, at University of Lagos, are encouraging practitioners to come share their practical experiences with our students. We need to merge the theoretical aspect with the practical.”
Sunday stated that renowned fellows in broadcast and print were already helping out, adding, “The conditions of teaching in our universities are not encouraging – from teaching aids, environment to the number of students in a class.”
The HOD described his term so far in office as being a learning and worthwhile experience, adding, “It is a challenge that one needs to move forward despite some setbacks stopping one from doing more than one intends to do. The financial situation in the country is such that would not afford one the opportunity to do more. We have to resort to making use of the little money the system makes available to us.
“The work of a HOD is like a coordinator’s job, where one relies on people. It is teamwork. One does not have the power to make things happen for him immediately because one lacks the power and resources to do so. We are aware that the money the Federal Government gives higher institutions has not changed in the past three years; there are things we would love to fix and buy, and we need government to handle. Aside all these, I would say, in terms of teaching, we have been trying our best and we have even tried to increase the number of staff by recruiting more lecturers.
Sunday said although the Nigerian mass media is far from being comfortable, it is not doing badly. “Media proprietors should make sure that the practitioners acquire more skills, and also provide conducive work environment for them. And in turn, the practitioners should also do things that would enhance their performance.”
Sunday said he intends to keep encouraging students to put in their best to learn, “Our students have been taking part in different competitions in advertising and other areas and they have been winning awards.”