A COMPARATIVE ASSESSMENT OF MASS COMMUNICATION EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN NIGERIA UNIVERSITIES
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The world is living in the era of public opinion, when the opinion of the
people counts so much in all aspects of human activity from government to
business. According to Lippamann (1972:20), the mass media play a very
important role in the formation of opinion. There is no way one can read and
practice Mass Communication without being noticed or without nf1uencing the
society. Studies on the mass media usually focus on one of the three related
problems: on the process by which mediated messages are generated; on the
message content itself; or on the diffusion of information through a population, and
its impacts on individuals, groups, or the society as a whole (Stone, 1976:43).
There are a few studies done African and non-Africans on this area. However the
volume of study is inadequate to properly eliminate the area of Mass
In this study, we present the result of a comprehensive comparative analysis
of study programmes or curriculum of tertiary institutions in Nigeria train
journalists. My decision to study this aspect is borne out of my experience in media
training in Nigeria Universities. I vehemently believe that the level of
enlightenment and quality of entertainment the society gets from the media
depends on the quality of training that those at package media software received. A
survey of global literature will reveal various terms used to describe the press – like
watch dog, the voice the voiceless, etc. (Daramola, 1990:28).
It is also known as the 4th estate of the realm” after the executive, judiciary
and legislature (Denneberg; 1976:18). All these expressions no doubt, depict the
sociological value of the media in society. It is no secret at a lot of people depend
on the media for further education on contemporary social issues. According to
Njoku (2002:14) before the journalists can properly inform the public, they must
first be properly informed. And being well informed here hinges on the quality of
training and education received by this crop of men and women, who cross the
land everyday to ensure that the society is well-informed, entertained and educated.
One wonders the kind of education one gets from a half educated man. This study
hopes to realistically picture the kind of journalistic training available in Nigeria
However, fortunately or unfortunately, there had been no formula for
automatically producing successful journalists. No amount of reading,
attending lectures, or practicing can ensure automatic success. Success comes
through proper adaptation and combination of the above factors together with the
various human qualities. In general, there are two schools of thought on the subject
of training Mass Communicators — one emphasizes mechanics or technicalities or
literary ingenuity Hyde (1976:24). The other largely ignores mechanics and
substitutes a strong emphasis on communicating ideas, regardless of skills Flesch
(1972:86). Since good journalism has resulted from both approaches, this study
will look at the possibilities of combining both.
I strongly believe that the proper training and education of Mass
Communicators is important because the dramatic explosion of knowledge in the
past few years requires adequate training of Mass Communicators for the 201st
century and beyond. More than ever before, we now have sophisticated media
consumers. What should one then study, if one intends to become a Mass
Communicator? From the little experience in the classroom, this question must be
answered in two ways. First, one should pursue subjects that will most quickly and
obviously prepare one for the job. Second, one should have a general background
in arts and sciences. As we will see when we will be comparing the curricula of
selected universities, we will see courses practiced under these two readings. And
sound Mass Communication education should emphasize both kinds of education,
as a way of appreciating the breadth of Mass Communication practice.
In general, the term mass media refers to institutions that are in business to
educate, inform, persuade and entertain large numbers of people. The largest of
mass media fields are newspapers, television, radio, magazines, book, film,
advertising agencies, public relation firms, wire services, freelance photography,
graphic arts, the internet and the Information and Communication Technology
(ICT) (Baran, 2004:65). Universities in Nigeria frequently use mass
communication to label departments or schools that specialize in preparing
students for jobs in various mass media fields. These programmes can offer
training in the practical aspects of communicating as well as courses on the
theories and psychology of human communication, from simple conversation to
A student majoring in Mass Communication is required to take several
courses, which cover the basics of Mass Communication. A 1990 study conducted
for the Dew Jones Newspaper Fund in America found that 75% percent of
journalists hired are Mass Communication majors Ghiglione, 1992:13). In Nigeria,
the National Universities Commission (NUC) that accredits university programmes
requires universities to ensure that graduates have taken a total of 163 credits
before graduating (NUC: 2003: 54).
At this point, additional discussion is necessary to clarify some of the
peculiar issues to Mass Communication training in Nigeria. The first of these
issues is the school or university perspective. In Nigeria, we have three categories
of universities that prepare students for journalism jobs. They are prominent
Federal Universities among them is the University of Nigeria. The second category
are the state owned universities, like Enugu State University of Science and
Technology; Delta State University, Abraka, etc. And finally, we have the
privately-owned universities who joined the chain in 2001 with the establishment
of lgbinedion University, Okada and Madonna University at Okija. It is from these
groups that we select our sample of study.
Furthermore, the nomenclature of the degrees offered in these universities
will be examined against the courses that they offer. How this defines the
programme will be looked at from the angle of their training tools. Many things
dictate that Mass Communicators be well trained in under to avoid societal
misinformation and disinformation and its ugly consequences.
Another issue we would like to bring forward is the seemingly over
stretching of the training facilities and manpower. It would have been a welcome
development to see the private universities join the training and education of mass
communicators but the private universities that are coming in their leaps and
bounds all offer Mass Communication programmes. However, the informal
implication of this is that the facilities available in Nigeria for training Mass
Communicators are being stressed to a point of ineffectiveness. The senior
manpower needed to groom these programmes to maturity is not there. We do not
have up to 20 professors of Mass Communication in Nigeria, but we have over
twenty universities offering Mass Communication. Those with doctorate degrees
are very few. They are the ageing crop of Nigerians that were lucky to have gone
to foreign institutions in those days and acquired the degree. Unfortunately, they
have not been mindful of the future of Mass Communication education. It is
however gladdening to then generation universities like Benue State lnamdi
Azikiwe University, Awka have Doctorate Degree programmes.
However, our major concern in this study is the bachelors degree
programmes and other basic training programmes available in Nigeria. Experience
reveals that the training of journalists in Nigeria can be formal or informal.
Formal, which is the main thrust of this work, deals with training for one’s
job, that is, going to a recognized school, and spend some years to acquire some
training and education that will make one practice a profession. In Nigeria, we
have universities, polytechnics and various institutes that offer formal education in
Mass Communication. Some examples of these institutes are Time Journalism
Institute, Lagos that offers formal practical-oriented specialist training in print
journalism, and the Television College, Jos that does the same for broadcasting.
Informal training comes in form of journalists training on the job. Our
concern here is a situation where protégées without any form of training arts
practicing. If Mass Communication practice is to be recognized and respected as a
profession, this type of training or practice must be stopped. It has created avenue
that has made mass communication practice an all-comers affair. It is unthinkable
that someone who did not have any formal training in Law and Medicine will get a
job in a Law Firm or hospital with the hope of becoming a lawyer or a doctor
through practical experience alone.
In such a situation, the lawyers and the doctors encourage the person to
enroll in school for formal training. But when it is Mass Communication, you hear
such comments as “it does not matter”. It is our stand that informal training should
be part and parcel of training a total mass communicator. But such informal
training can come after acquiring the formal training. We all agree that there is no
amount of formal training that will expose a trainee to all the skills he needs to
practice. Some skills must be acquired while on the job.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
By virtue of their level of influence on society, mass communicators
are supposed to be one of the best-trained professionals. But unfortunately,
practical evidence shows that they are not. Journalism is a very highly essential
and sensitive service to the society that training should be the best and the concern
of all in the society. It is one profession that Practitioners cannot hide from the
glare of the society. The society relies on it for further education, continuous and
continual information and entertainment (Daramola, 1990:30). While it will be
redundant to ask other professional groups what they studied, such question is far
from being obvious in the case of journalism in Nigeria. The continuing dilemma
for those pushing for professional status for journalism to note that it has no single
set of procedure or requirement for certifying its practitioners. Moreover, as we
shall see later on, there is little agreement among those current practitioners and
the training institutions as to how specifically to go about becoming a mass
communicator. The statement of the problem is that intending journalist do not
have the training they need to function effectively and training programmes in
universities appear not to be adequate to give them the necessary exposure they
1.3. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
It is now obvious that the mass media shape the particular image of social
reality. However, the clarity and relevance of these images depend on the sound of
training that those who package and process these realities received. In this study,
we undertook to look into the curriculum of universities that train mass
communicators in Nigeria. The principal Objective of the undertaking was to
present comprehensive information on ground that is to be added, dropped or
retrained in these training programmes in order to make our products or graduates
relevant for the demand of the century and beyond.
In addition, this study hopes to bring to the fore the level of adequacy
university training for mass communicators in terms of physical facilities and
human resources. This way we determine whether the facilities are equate for
effective and efficient training so that the National Universities Commission
(NUC) would be better informed before approving universities to run mass
Furthermore, the study has determined the number of credits both for core
and elective courses needed to graduate and whether it is appropriate compared to
what is obtainable around the world.
1.4. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The importance of a study on how the occupational group most directly
responsible for the day-to-day information needs of our society is trained cannot be
over-emphasized. The study provided accurate information on the nature of
journalistic training in contemporary Nigeria. As Johnstone (1976:65) puts it,
news-media journalists are the occupational group currently very much in the
public eye. Therefore, an insight into how they are trained is of great significance
to the society.
The adage: a little learning is dangerous is more apt in a profession like mass
communication because of the level of mass influence that they
command in contemporary society.
Furthermore, the significance can be seen in the fact that there will be an
addition to a body of relevant literature in mass communication practice that would
be a reference point for reading and research.
Also one of the problems that most potential Mass Communication students
face is the issue of which the Nigerian universities are offering the programme. So
the study provides them with information on these universities that will help them
make wise choices. In addition, practicing mass communicators will be informed
on how and where they can get themselves trained and retrained for their job in this
1.5. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- How adequate is the present curriculum in Mass Communication education
and training in Nigerian Universities?
- What is the ratio between theoretical and practical training the university
- What are the personality traits expected of trainee mass
- What areas would students of Mass Communication in Nigerian
universities be encouraged to take elective from?
- Which aspects of the training need more emphasis to ensure smooth
transition from the classroom to the newsroom?
1.6. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
The field of educational psychology is loaded with a lot of theories
that have to do with learning processes. Educational psychology is concerned with
learning and adjustment in schools. It makes recommendations on educational
placement and work on educational planning team. It does research on teaching
and learning Santrock (2001:124). It is therefore not out of place for this researcher
to immerse himself in educational psychology in the task of coming up with an
appropriate theoretical framework for the research work. Several of these theories
under educational psychology have emphasized different factors responsible for
attitude formation and attitude change. And education and training that is the crust
of this work has as its objective attitude formation and change. For the purpose of
this study, the researcher intends to use two theories for our theoretical framework
to support the drive towards ensuring that our media practitioners are well trained.
These are the observational theory. This theory also called imitation or
modeling, is learning that occurs when a person (student) observes and imitates
someone’s (lecturer) behavior. Bandura (1986:18) described four main processes
that are involved in observational learning: attention, retention, motor reproduction
and reinforcement. From this theory, it means that for learning or teaching or
intellectual exchange to effectively take place in our universities that teach Mass
Communication, should first attract the attention of the students. In order to
reproduce a teacher’s action, the student must attend to what the teacher is saying
or doing, which calls for concentration. The attention to the model/teacher is
influenced by a host of characteristics like warm, powerful typical people
command more attention than do cold, weak typical people. If mass
communication education imbibes the principles of this theory, our teaching
learning is likely to produce permanent change in behaviour. Commenting further
on this theory, Bandura (2000:73) believes that if we learn only in such a trial-anderror
fashion, learning would be exceedingly tedious and at times hazardous.
Although we can also acquire knowledge, skills, rules, strategies, beliefs and
attitudes through observation.
GARDNER’S THEORY OF EIGHT INTELLIGENCE.
Another working theory is Gardner’s theory of eight intelligence. Gardner
(2002:93) believes there are eight types of intelligence. They are described below:
- Verbal skill: The ability to think in words and to use language to
express meaning. Occupations: Journalism, authors.
- Mathematical skills: The ability to carry out mathematical operations.
- Spatial skills: The ability to think three-dimensionally. Occupations:
architects, artists, sailors.
- Bodily Kinesthetic skills. The ability to manipulate objects and be physically
adaptive. Occupations: surgeons, crafts people, dancers, athletes.
- Musical skill> Sensitivity to pitch, melody, rhythm and tone. Occupation:
composers, musicians and sensitive listeners.
- Interpersonal skills. The ability to understand and effectively interact with
others. Occupation: teachers, mental health professionals.
- Interpersonal skills. The ability to understand oneself. Occupation:
- Naturalist skills. The ability to observe pattern in nature and understand
natural human-made systems. Occupations: farmers, botanists, ecologists,
Gardner believes that each of the eight intelligences can be destroyed by
poor training. That each involves unique cognitive skills and that each
shows up in instructional classes in which the teacher lectures and gives
objective tests. Such arrangement often considers as smart students with good
grades. Students who are high in creative intelligence often are not in the top rung
of their class. (Sternberg 1999:104) says that many teachers have expectations
about how to assess students. Students who are high in creative intelligence often
are not in the top rung because they don’t give expected answers but unconditional
although correct answers. Also, students who are practically intelligent often do
not relate well to the demands of school. However, these students frequently do
well outside of the classroom walls. Sternberg (1999:100) believes that a few tasks
are purely analytic, creative or practical. Most tasks require some combination of
This theory was adopted because as we can see above, it can stimulate mass
communication educator to think more broadly about what makes up people’s
intelligence and competence. And it is more appropriate here because Mass
Communication is a practical-skill-oriented profession. This theory will motivate
educators to develop programmes that instruct students in different domains.
1.7 DEFINITION OF BASIC CONCEPTS
Comparative Assessment: This is an attempt at bringing out the areas of common
ground in the academic training programmes of some government owned
universities on one hand the privately owned ones on the other and. Apart from the
common grounds in the training programmes, this comparative assessment will
also bring out areas of disparity. The target is to identify the SWOT (Strength,
weakness, opportunity and treats) of each programme. These will enable for a
proactive policy that will encourage and support the identified positive virtues and
discourage or downplay the negative ones. To assess is to determine the usefulness
or otherwise of something based on the inherent virtues and the needs that it is
suppose to serve. And that is why assessment is not judgmental but seeks to bring
out the inherent features of these training programmes without making any value
Mass Communication: In this work, mass communication is used synonymously
with journalism. And we defined it as the institutionalized running record of a
society, and the day-to-day representation of ongoing social process as filtered
through the apparatus of the journalistic manpower.
Furthermore, mass communication is seen as a social force that informs,
entertains, delight, annoy and educate the public by moving their emotions,
challenging their intellects, insulting their intelligence and help define and shape
public relations (Baran: 2004:4).
Journalism Manpower: It is important for our readers to have an idea of
what journalism manpower is, since no profession is better than its empower. Here
it is defined as all-news media personnel who have editorial responsibility for the
preparation or transmission of new stories or other basic information. This edition
embracing those whose principal responsibilities lie in newsgathering, news,
processing and editing; or supervisors and managers of news operation (Johnstone
1976:4). This journalistic manpower of our dream requires the following skillability,
to talk or speak, write, listen, etc.
Education Training: Education or training can be defined as a process that leads
to the transformation of an individual. It involves passing through stages, that will
lead to the acquisition of a skill that is not available to the person before the
training started. Here we recognize two types of education or training, viz: formal
and informal. Training is formal when it is acquired at the four walls of the
classroom and going through detailed stages and with a minimum entry point
requirement. This kind of education leads to what is called training-for-one’s job.
Informal education occurs when in the process of working or interacting with
people in society, the person acquires some skills that are necessary for ones
continued existence. Here there is no procedure or formal states or entry
requirements. This kind of education leads to what is called training on the-job.
In Nigeria we have about 48 public and private universities; and almost all of them
offer training in mass communication. The university is at the apex of the
educational structure in Nigeria.
Public Universities: In Nigeria, public universities are those owned and operated
by either the Federal Government like the University Nigeria, Nsukka or those
owned and operated by the State Government Delta State University, Abraka.
These universities are under the direct control of the Ministry of Education. They
are usually established by the tax-payers money; and that is why they are called
public, because no one individual lays claim to its ownership. And trade unionism
is tolerated in public universities and prominent among the trade unions are ASUU
(Academic Staff Union of Universities), where incessant strikes almost led to the
collapse of the public universities and greatly contributed to the growth of the
Private Universities: These universities are private concerns, purely owned and
operated by private citizens individually or in association. Prominent examples of
such universities are lgbinedion University, Okada, Benson Idahosa University,
Madonna University, Okija, The owners of these universities are usually the
chancellors and no of trade unionism is allowed. And job security here is very low
as any person can be thrown out any time. The profile and number of these
universities is increasing and one interesting thing is that so far all of them have
training programmes for mass communication.
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