Monday, 1 March 2010

Nigeria Partners World Body On $4.3m Science Training Project

The World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) has named Nigeria as a key partner in the second phase of its ambitious Science Journalism training project for Africa and Middle East.
WFSJ announced at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) holding in San Diego, California, that it would be partnering Nigeria’s Science and Public health media training organisation, Development Communications Network (DEVCOMS) in the project tagged Science Journalism Cooperation Project (SJCoop).
Consequent upon this, DEVCOMS`Programme Director, Akin Jimoh, has been appointed coordinator for the English-speaking group for Anglophone Africa.
Executive Director of WFSJ, Jean-Marc Fleury, who spoke on the collaboration with DEVCOMS during the announcement in San Diego, said DEVCOMS ”will be a partner of the WFSJ in implementing the project. Regional and national associations of science journalists in the Arab World and in Africa will gain experience and eventually implement their own training activities from start to end``.
WFSJ`s decision to partner Nigeria in the second phase of the science journalists training project derives from its conviction that the first phase which had imparted positively on science Journalism as it is practiced in Nigeria.
Some journalists who have participated in the first phase of the project include Onche Odeh and Michael Simire, both of Daily Independent Newspapers. Other Nigerian journalists that participated in the programme included Alexander Abutu of News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) and Abiose Adelaja of 234 Next.
“It is interesting to see that the project has resulted in a remarkable growth in science journalism in countries like Nigeria, `` WFSJ`s Executive said.
President of the Federation, Ms. Nadia El-Awady, who made the official announcement said the $4.3 million (Canadian) mentoring project is aimed at raising journalists that can efficiently cover health, environment, agriculture, science and technology in Africa and the Middle East.
She said SjCOOP would train 60 journalists in the reporting of science and another 15 as trainers in science journalism. It will be implemented with the explicit goal of reinforcing regional and local structures in the delivery of training in science reporting.
WFSJ, representing 41 associations of science and technology journalists from all over the world, will implement the ambitious and challenging three-year project, which is the second phase of project SjCOOP (Science journalism COOPeration).
“The first SjCOOP had a major positive influence on science journalism in Africa and the Arab World in the past three years”, said Ms. El-Awady. “This second phase is much more ambitious. We will provide journalists an opportunity to achieve the best a science journalist can hope for: make a difference in the life of people. But to get there, we will be extremely demanding,” she added.
The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) is the lead donor of the new project, building on its investment in the successful implementation of the first phase. The International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC) has also promised support, beginning April 2010, while several other donors and partners are in discussions with the WFSJ regarding the details of their support and collaboration.
The SjCOOP follow-up project will again be multilingual and simultaneously offer training in the Arabic, English and French languages. The training will address issues that are common to the Africa and Middle East contexts, such as a short fall of competent journalists needed to cover scientific and technology issues, lack of interest from editors for science and research, and deeply entrenched skepticism of scientists and policy-makers towards the media.
SjCOOP will also put in place and reinforce ten associations of science journalists that will provide sustainable support to these 60 journalists and 15 trainers.
Training of journalists is achieved at a distance while journalists remain active in their normal working environment. The journalists benefit from the advice and support of mentors who are experienced science journalists from within or outside their regions. These mentors provide a full range of advice and support, from help with specific reporting assignments all the way to career development and international freelancing. Mentors and mentees meet face to face at least once a year.
Science journalism basics will be addressed by tutoring in the first online course in science journalism, developed during the first phase of SjCOOP ( More so, the thrust of the project is to increase reporting of relevant scientific knowledge and research by the African and Arab mass media and ultimately contribute to the use of evidence into policy making and decision-making.
SjCOOP’s new approach has very rapidly positioned the World Federation of Science Journalists as a leader in training journalists in the reporting of complex scientific and technological issues. This has been possible because of the Federation’s direct access to a worldwide network of the best expertise available in science journalism.
“We are hoping to continue this success with the second SjCOOP and to play a real role in supporting science journalism and improving the quality of science coverage in both regions”, concludes El-Awady.”

Nigeria Partners World Body On $4.3m Science Training Project
By Onche Odeh, Senior Correspondent (Reporting from San Diego, California)

No comments: