Abuja, Nigeria 11th August, 2019
Professor Ralph A. Akinfeleye of Nigeria’s University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, has been elected to the prestigious Council of the World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC) for the next three years, the first African to be so elected.
The six members representing various regions of the world were elected at the just-concluded 5th WJEC meeting at the Université Paris-Dauphine | PSL, in France, which brought together more than 600 participants – professors, researchers, professionals, and representatives of journalism schools from 70 countries.
Akinfeleye, a professor of Journalism and Mass Communication brings to his new role, vast professional experience in the training and mentoring of journalists, practising their craft in conventional and new media spaces locally and internationally.
In its Paris Declaration on Freedom of Journalism Education the Congress noted that “there cannot be an environment of quality information without quality journalism,” and that the “quality of journalism depends greatly on proper journalism education and training.”
The Declaration affirmed that “journalism education has a fundamental role to play towards more inclusive societies and the United Nations’ 2030 development agenda,” adding that the Declaration would “help colleagues to make their authorities understand the specificity of journalism education from the academic and resources point of view.”
“Furthermore, we believe that this Declaration would contribute to strengthening the WJEC as a global network of journalism educators,” the Congress noted. Congress stressed the need for “strong and independent governance of journalism schools and journalism departments, which should have a faculty level of power and decision-making, and recognized academic autonomy from external actors.”
It was also agreed that journalism education should be preserved as a distinctive stream compared to other fields of mass and strategic communication, with the Congress committing to “mobilize the necessary funding for excellence in curricula and extra-curricular outreach as required for the quality functioning of a journalism school.”
Congress agreed to promote a balance between academic knowledge and the technical skills of the journalism craft; recognize gender equality in and through journalism education as a cross-cutting priority; promote diversity as a key factor in journalism education: diversity among students, diversity among staff, and diversity among topics taught.”
It also decided to “encourage a critical spirit for journalism education research, including in experiments and innovations concerning pedagogies, journalistic practices and media business models.”
“Therefore we, members of the World Journalism Education Council, calls on: Journalism educators and trainers and their institutions and organizations to advocate for adherence to this Declaration.” Council also called on “Leaders in higher education and training NGOs to take the principles into their practice,” and urged “National departments of education, media industries, private businesses and donors, including international donors, to ensure sufficient funding for journalism education while respecting its independence.”
The UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication is also called upon “to support WJEC Paris Declaration and bring it to the attention of UNESCO member States.”
The Paris-Dauphine Journalism School, the Institut Pratique du Journalisme Dauphine | PSL (IPJ Dauphine | PSL) organized the meeting in collaboration with the Réseau Théophraste of francophones journalism schools and the Conférence des Ecoles de Journalisme (CEJ).
Mr Joe Foote, Founder and President of the World Journalism Education Council and Mr Pascal Guénée, Director of IPJ Dauphine-PSL signed the Declarationata ceremony witnessed by Madam Isabelle Huault, the President of the Université Paris-Dauphine | PSL and Madam Marie-Christine Lemardeley, Deputy Mayor of Paris.