No grace period for unqualified scribes - Minister

MINISTER of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe.

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UNQUALIFIED media practitioners will need to strive to acquire minimum requisite professional qualifications within the given timeframe, as the government will not offer additional time for those who will fail to meet the legal requirement.

The Media Services Act which came into effect in December, last year, requires journalists to have a diploma as minimum education qualification.

The law provides a five-year time for untrained journalists to acquire the required qualifications, one year is almost getting to an end since the law came into force last year, therefore, untrained journalists should strive to attain the credentials before they are barred from the profession.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam, over the weekend, to mark the 30th anniversary for Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe said that no journalist will be allowed to practise without meeting the required education standards, after the deadline has elapsed. Minister Mwakyembe commended TAMWA for fulfilling the legal requirement, by setting it as criteria for a person to become a member of the association.

“I am so delighted to hear that for a person to become a member of this association, she must have at least a diploma, which is also a requirement under the Media Services Act for a journalist to practise in the profession,’ Dr Mwakyembe said.

The report on the assessment of the quality of broadcasting carried out by the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) in 2016/17 revealed that 90 per cent of broadcast journalists in the country did not possess requisite qualifications in the media profession.

However, in an effort to enable the scribes play a proactive role in the media industry, the National Council of Technical Education (NACTE) and the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), will be carrying out a two-year diploma course at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM)’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC).

In an interview with the ‘Sunday News’ over the weekend, the Programme Coordinator, Ms Zuhura Selemani said that the course scheduled to commence in January, next year and set to enhance the capacity of journalists, is open for interested individuals from the media industry and elsewhere.

“Those working in the media are highly encouraged to apply,” she said. Ms Selemani added that the course that will see students paying 950,000/- fees per year, will avail admission to candidates with NTA level 4 in journalism or Advanced Certificate of Secondary Education Examinations with one principal pass in relevant subjects.

SJMC Dean, Mr Michael Andindilile said the programme (Diploma in Journalism) has been introduced as a response to meet the needs by media practitioners after the Minister for Information, Culture, Art and Sports, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe said that untrained journalists should upgrade their professional qualifications to meet the legal requirements.

The law was pivotal for the media industry after many years of discussion, arguing that it will transform the profession from what it appeared as ‘anyone can practise’ to a career which requires specific prerequisites.

The law also puts in place a special system to protect rights of the scribes when collecting, editing and disseminating information freely. “The media will now perform this constitutional right without any unreasonable restrictions,” Andindilile said.

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