Law, journalism, and ICT are skills that are cross-cutting, applicable to virtually every field. I advise the policy-makers to engineer reforms that will enable the studying of these disciplines wider than the current narrow confines where a lawyer is synonymous with a barrister, a journalist is a reporter and an IT graduate is a ‘computer expert’.
Countries like India and the US, for example, do not teach Law as a first degree. USA no longer teaches IT as a stand-alone discipline.
This is the way to go. Extending the course from three to four years, with a renaming here and there, is of no consequence. NUR will continue producing reporters at best. Little wonder our media’s unique selling proposition now is gossip and ‘entertainment’.
Business, development, science and other disciplines are undeserved. If journalism is to have the impact it is meant to have, it is time to effect a 360 degree reform.
Minimise intake at first degree, focus on recruiting graduate students in key sectors, and train them into specific journalism in their first degree fields: medicine, agriculture, environment, business, development, political science, marketing, and economics, among others.
The same applies to Law and ICT. Law applies everywhere, but here we still focus on training barristers and advocates. The challenges are growing by the day as we enter into more and bigger global dispensations in every field. ICT is the biggest victim. It has been interpreted to mean ‘self-employment and job-creation’ once you have an ICT qualification. The sight of laptop-laden and CD carrying ‘experts’ is testimony to this. ICT will remain useless in a poor, consumer, importing economy. Even business-process outsourcing requires more than mere IT skills.
It is possible to raise these and other disciplines a notch. Just benchmark how others like US and India do it. Commissions headed by grandpas, greased with expatriate ‘technical and financial support’ will make us miss out on delicacies the world lives on.
Amon B. Mbekiza