A COMPARATIVE ASSESSMENT OF MASS COMMUNICATION EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN NIGERIA UNIVERSITIES

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

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

Communication

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

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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

today.

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

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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,

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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

worldwide networks.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

need.

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

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effective and efficient training so that the National Universities Commission

(NUC) would be better informed before approving universities to run mass

communication programmes.

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.

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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

21st century.

1.5. RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  1. How adequate is the present curriculum in Mass Communication education

and training in Nigerian Universities?

  1. What is the ratio between theoretical and practical training the university

programmes?

  1. What are the personality traits expected of trainee mass

communicators?

  1. What areas would students of Mass Communication in Nigerian

universities be encouraged to take elective from?

  1. 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

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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.

OBSERATIONALLEARNING THEORY

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

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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:

  1. Verbal skill: The ability to think in words and to use language to

express meaning. Occupations: Journalism, authors.

  1. Mathematical skills: The ability to carry out mathematical operations.
  2. Spatial skills: The ability to think three-dimensionally. Occupations:

architects, artists, sailors.

  1. Bodily Kinesthetic skills. The ability to manipulate objects and be physically

adaptive. Occupations: surgeons, crafts people, dancers, athletes.

  1. Musical skill> Sensitivity to pitch, melody, rhythm and tone. Occupation:

composers, musicians and sensitive listeners.

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  1. Interpersonal skills. The ability to understand and effectively interact with

others. Occupation: teachers, mental health professionals.

  1. Interpersonal skills. The ability to understand oneself. Occupation:

theologians, psychologists.

  1. Naturalist skills. The ability to observe pattern in nature and understand

natural human-made systems. Occupations: farmers, botanists, ecologists,

landscapers.

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

these skills.

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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

judgment statement.

Mass Communication: In this work, mass communication is used synonymously

with journalism. And we defined it as the institutionalized running record of a

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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

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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.

Private Universities: These universities are private concerns, purely owned and

operated by private citizens individually or in association. Prominent examples of

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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.

REFERENCES

Bandura, S. (1986). Social Foundation of Thought Action. New York: Prentice

Hall Inc.

Bandura, S.J. (2004) “Self Efficiency”, In Kazdin (ed.) Encyclopedia of

Psychology. New York. Prentice Hall Inc.

Baran, S.J. (2004). Introduction to Mass Communication. Boston: McGraw Hill.

Daramola, I. (2000). Introduction to Mass Communication, Lagos: Rothan Press

Ltd.

FIesCh, R. (1972). The art of Readable Writing. New York: Collier Books.

Gardner, H . (2001 ) “ The Pursuit of Excellence through Education” in

Terran, M. (E. D) For the Extraordinary Rich. New York: Michmah.

Ghiglione, L. (1992) Journalism Careers Guide for Minorities. New York: ASNE.

Hyde, S.W. (1970). Television and Radio Announcing Network: Prentice

Hall Int.

Johnstone, J.W.C. (1976) The News People, London: University of Illinois Press.

Lippmann, W. (1970) MsMec1taffie Fourth Branching Denenberg R.V. New

York: Fontana Press.

National Universities Commissions (NUC) Benchmark, 2003.

Njoku, l.A. (2002) Effective Communication in the work Place: Unpublished

Seminar paper presented at NNPC training workshop at P.T.I.,E ffurun.

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Mass Communication

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