By Paul Ndiho
Declining newspapers sales, the rise of citizen journalism and use of new technologies are causing concern at some university campuses in Africa. The African University College of Communications, in Accra, Ghana is one of those universities that are re-thinking how to effectively teach communications.
Established in 2001 as the Africa Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC), the African University College of Communications (AUCC), has grown into a private, fully accredited institution, that offers carefully designed and uniquely blended programs at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Kojo Yankah is the founder and president of the University.
“We started in the main stream journalism. You know Journalism at the beginning was just reporting, writing and editing. But then I took the broad fields – Communications should be more encompassing. So, I had to spread into public relations, advertising, marketing and then equally more important areas development journalism.
The University has approximately 1700 students from nearly 16 African countries. The AUCC is one of the few institutions offering courses in journalism, communications, business studies and other disciplines — and now the university is branching into radio and television.
“So we are now branching into multimedia studies to give a broad range of skills, at the feet of students, for them to see how they can now apply those skills, technologically and do better than we’re doing before. So, we have our radio station, for all those who are interested…in the past people could finish their journalism school without ever seeing a microphone. You have a radio station to, plus very active, lecturers.”
Industry experts say online publishing and multimedia communications are among the top growing industries — and they are the future of journalism. The university students asked me to explain why multimedia journalists are trending upward.
“For newspaper journalists right now, it’s not the best time to be a newspaper journalist. You want to be a multimedia journalist because most newspapers are cutting down or closing. The readership has gone down since everybody has a phone. Don’t be caught up, you need to think big and think outside of the box. If you are going to be studying journalism, don’t look at it from one angle; you have to look at it from all angles. If its print, TV, radio you do it –So that even when you are looking for a job, you have more options to choose from.”
Despite those fears, journalism and communication studies are still very relevant and the courses are attracting a lot of international students with varied reasons for selecting their particular paths of study.
“Well several reasons but the basic reason why I chose this school was that it was a communication school and I was pushing mass communication.
“I actually enjoy radio presenting, as a person, I love to write articles, I love to sing, I love to talk to people, so I thought radio presenting would be the best.”
“When it comes to the kind of courses they have, especially the one I’m specializing in, strategic communication, I found out that it was one of the best around.”
The main goal of Musah Larry Prince is to learn and enhance his communication skills.
“As someone who is interested in social issues and media in particular, I had the desire to enroll in a communications school.”
Most exciting, perhaps, is that Kojo Yankah recently added a business school that is also generating a lot of buzz. It’s geared towards teaching students hands on skills. He also has his sights set on Liberia and Sierra Leone where he is already in talks with the relevant ministries to open up satellite AUCC campuses.
Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/Executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentorship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho