By Iteveh Ekpokpobe,
Divergent reactions from communication stakeholders are currently trailing the balkanization of Mass Communication into seven new departments by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
Though, NUC says the decision which takes effect from 2020 admissions is to meet present demand, some experts describe it as unnecessary.
Editor in Chief, Premium Times Nigeria, and International award winning journalist, Mr. Musikilu Mojeed is one stakeholder who sees the development as a misplaced priority.
Responding to our reporter via WhatsApp, Musikilu says, “I see this as misplaced priority – all I thought they needed to do is update the outdated curriculum in line with the reality of the modern age, provide facilities, retrain the teachers that are trainable and ease out those who continued to teach with the same notes they acquired as students, and hire new young scholars who are versatile in the media of our time, as well as bridge the gap between the market and the campuses.
Musikilu says he sees nothing wrong in a mass communication degree with specialization in these areas NUC have broken the programme into. “I even find the combination Film & Multi-media Studies weird. Film Studies (or Film and Documentary Production) is huge enough field of study. Multimedia Studies should stand alone for those who want to have combined knowledge of broadcast, print, film and become expert in media convergence.”
He notes concerns that if the standard of education remain the same, the proposed value may not be gained on the long run. “The hood does not make the monk. If things remain the same in those schools/ faculties of communication, we might end up getting little or no additional value despite the breakdown of the disciplines.”
On the other hand, Provost, Nigeria Institute of Journalism, and member, International Press Centre, Mr. Ogunleye Gbemiga, believes the unbundling seeks to make specialists as a replacement for of generalists in the communication sector.
“It wasn’t a decision taken lightly. Experts in the field of communication including professors and heads of departments met and decided that it was high time mass communication was unbundled so that people can begin to specialize. What the unbundling seeks to do is to define one’s steps from day one. The essence is to make specialists instead of generalists.”
Gbemiga’s worry is bordering on the volume of resources the implementation will consume in terms of human capital and finance.
“What we should be talking about is to look at implementation, because it will require a lot of resources both human and material. A course like cinematography for instance may not have readily available experts who will man the departments. I don’t think what the NUC meant was for the institutions to start off immediately. Their role is to check the readiness of institutions and to accredit them accordingly.” He states.
In the same vein, Vice Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Delta State Chapter, Mr. Godfrey Osakwe agrees that the balkanization makes for specialization because Mass Communication is ambiguous and wide.
According to him, “It makes for specialization, because mass communication is ambiguous and wide. It comprises of several disciplines. The decision is one in the right direction. We are starting late because it is what is obtainable in developed climes.”
International award winning freelance journalist, Mr. Patrick Egwu, says the development takes away the elements of jack of all trades and master of none communication graduates.
Egwu says the balkanization is quite inefficient considering that new dimensions to media and communication are constantly rearing heads. “In Europe for example, there are studies on Digital Journalism, multimedia journalism amongst other dimensions. In the same vein, the development will create employment opportunities, because, definitely more departments call for more man power to match the demands.”
Meanwhile, the position of Delta State University on the development is yet undetermined. Prof Godwin Oboh, Head of Department, Mass Communication, Delta State University (DELSU), in a telephone conversation, says the University is yet to come up with a position adding that it may take some extra two weeks.
“I can’t make a statement on that now, because the Vice Chancellor has come up with a position. It will be very embarrassing to the institution to go on air to talk about the unbundling. Once the school has taken a position and accepted the position of NUC, only then can I talk about it.”
Meanwhile all efforts to reach Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof Patrick Muoboghare, at Press time proved abortive.
Recall that professors, professionals and practitioners of communication in Nigeria had presented new communication curricula to National Universities Commission (NUC) seeking the unbundling of mass communication into seven departments.
The NUC had approved the Curriculum which resulted in the emergence of seven degree-awarding programmes and the phasing out of the single BSc/BA Degree Programme in Mass Communication currently offered in different Faculties in different universities.
The seven new Programmes/Departments, to be domiciled in a Faculty / School / College of Communication and Media Studies are: Journalism & Media Studies, Public Relations, Advertising, Broadcasting, Film & Multi-Media Studies, Development Communication Studies, Information & Media Studies according to NUC’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed who made the announcement.