by S.T. Kwame Boafo

Journalism training and communication education in Africa have been a subject of studies and surveys at least since the late 1960s (see, for example, Marathey and Bourgeois, 1965; Quarmyne and Bebey, 1967; Leaute, 1962; Hachten, 1968; Scotton, 1974; Murphy and Scotton, 1987; and Scotton, 1989). The issues addresssed in such studies range from availability of institutions and facilities for media training to the relevance of the Western model of journalism and communication education and the exportation of Western normative values to African countries through educational programmes.

In more recent years, a number of studies have been carried out on the curricula of journalism training programmes and the kind of teaching and training materials which are predominantly used in communication educational institutions in African countries (see, for example, Ugboajah, 1985; James, 1987; and Nordenstreng and Boafo, 1988). These studies and surveys revealed a considerable gap in the provision of teaching materials, a heavy dependence upon external models, inadequate utilization and distribution of texts, a paucity of materials directly related to African problems and environment and limitations of the existing network of communication researchers, teachers and trainers.

A survey of 35 institutions which offer regular education and training programmes for journalists and other communicators in sub-Saharan Anglophone Africa, was carried out between September 1986 and March 1987 by the IAMCR/AIERI (reported in Nordenstreng and Boafo, 1988). Table 1 gives the distribution by countries of all the institutions in Anglophone Africa which were included in the survey. It also contains some basic information concerning the situation in Francophone and Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa.


Distribution of journalism/communication programmes in Anglophone Africa*

Country Number of
Professional Postgraduate Student
staff strength
Diploma Bachelor's Diploma Master's Ph. D.
Ghana 3 2 1 1 248 38
Liberia 1 1 7 47 4
Nigeria 19 15 7 3 3 1 2931 140
Kenya 4 2 1 1 1 100 10
Uganda 2 1 1 15 3
Tanzania 2 2 75 7
Zambia 4 3 1 130 13
Zimbabwe 2 2 50 5
Total 37 27 11 5 5 1 3596 220

* In some countries the total number of programmes does not add up to the total number of schools because one school could have more than one programme. Regarding Francophone Africa, there are 15 journalism/communication schools. Of these 6 have Bachelor's programmes, two of which are in Zaire and one each in Cameroon, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal. The rest of the schools (9) are at diploma level with Burkina Faso having three. Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger and Togo have one each.

In Portuguese-speaking Africa only two countries have journalism/communication schools. These are Angola with two schools and Mozambique with one school. All three schools are at diploma level.

The IAMCR survey found, inter alia, that (i) the majority of teaching materials now in use are old (many dating back to the 1960s); (ii) they mostly derive from outside the region (69 % from the USA, 24 % from Western Europe); and (iii) they are so limited in number that even advanced students are forced to share available copies. The study also indicated that, because of difficulties in publishing and distributing communication educational materials in Africa and weak networks among institutions, knowledge of even the relatively small number of textbooks and other materials produced in countries such as Nigeria and Kenya was limited (see Nordenstreng and Boafo, 1988).

Findings from the studies and surveys as well as discussions and recommendations from meetings and workshops organized in Africa and elsewhere1 provide the background and rationale for the ACCE/UNESCO/SIDA project to develop communication teaching and study materials in Africa. This paper outlines the objectives of the project, its implementation, main activities and achievements as well as problems and difficulties since 1988. The paper also briefly discusses plans and projections about the production of communication teaching and study materials in Africa over the next few years.


The project was a direct consequence of the evaluation of teaching and training resources which had been carried out under the Professional Education Section of IAMCR. It was started in April 1988 under UNESCO Funds-in-Trust arrangements with financial assistance provided by the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA). Its general purpose is to redress the limitations regarding communication textbooks and study materials in African countries, as noted earlier. In the main, the project seeks to encourage the production and distribution of textbooks and other educational materials for communication studies by developing materials concerned with or relevant to the problems and environment of the African region.

The specific immediate objectives are:

1. To identify and evaluate the existing range of teaching and training materials on African communication media;

2. To collect relevant existing and newly-generated materials in the form of a kit;

3. To evaluate the effectiveness of materials in actual teaching and training situations;

4. To distribute copies of training materials in modular form (together with supporting instructional guides) to communication educational institutions and relevant organizations in the region; and

5. To increase the capacity of the ACCE to produce and assess teaching and training materials and strengthen it as a permanent resource for communication teaching and training in Africa.

Long-term Objectives

In the long term, the project aims at:

1. Developing and adapting communication curricula which are relevant to the social and development goals of African countries and emphasize their national and regional cultural identity;

2. Encouraging the development of an adequate range of journalism and communication textbooks and other instructional materials which respond to the specific needs and interests of Africa;

3. As a corollary, the gradual replacement of textbooks produced externally by those produced specifically for the region;

4. Improving the capacity and confidence of African teachers and trainers to deal with endogenous subjects and problems;

5. Developing a suitable means of publishing and distributing communication textbooks and educational materials; and

6. Strengthening regional networks linking communication teachers and trainers and educational institutions.


The project is implemented by the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE) from its Secretariat and Institute for Communication Development and Research in Nairobi, Kenya.2 A two-person team was set up at the ACCE/ICDR in June-July 1988 to be responsible for project implementation. Since then a number of activities have been undertaken and the project has made considerable progress towards achieving its primary intellectual and practical objective of producing a kit of teaching and training materials. The approach used in our effort to achieve this primary goal is made up of the following elements:

1. Identifying and assessing the existing range of teaching and training materials on African communication media through a series of consultations from October 1988 - July 1989 with teachers and trainers in selected institutions;

2. Holding a regional textbook development workshop in Jos, Nigeria, in October 1988 to establish teaching needs and identify priority subject areas in which materials are most urgently needed;

3. Drawing up a priority list of subject matters for which teaching and training materials and associated instructional guides should be developed;

4. Identifying and commissioning a number of African communication scholars and media professionals to prepare needed materials;

5. Identifying relevant existing materials and requesting publishers/copyright owners for permission to use them (with appropriate adaptation, where necessary);

6. Preparing an experimental version of teaching modules (the print materials were produced on a small Apple/Macintosh desktop publishing unit which was installed in May 1989);

7. Holding two review meetings in Nairobi in January 1989 and February 1990 to assess progress of project activities and plan for subsequent stages.

The experimental version of the communication teaching and training materials kit which was produced in early 1990 was made up of the following modules:

1. Module on Advanced Writing;

2. Module on Specialized Writing;

3. Module on Development Communication I;

4. Module on Development Communication II;

5. Module on Development Communication III.

Each module comprised several units of print materials, with each unit structured as follows: (i) an outline of major issues addressed in the unit; (ii) a narrative text with illustrations and diagrams, where appropriate; (iii) suggestions for further readings; and (iv) suggested exercises in the subject area. The Module on Advanced Writing was made up of three units which covered rural news reporting, feature writing and editorial writing. The Module on Specialized Writing was similarly composed of three units which dealt with reporting on business and finance; science and technology; and health and environment issues. The Module on Development Communication I consisted of four units and contained information on (i) the origins, evolution and changing perspectives on the functions of communication in various sectors of development; (ii) the definition of, different approaches to and constraints in the development process; and (iii) principal components of development communication. The Module on Development Communication II was divided into three units and dealt with development communication planning, especially planning and implementing media campaigns. The Module on Development Communication III contained six units which provided information on the functions and uses of communication media in individual and societal growth and development.

In addition to the five modules, the kit contained (a) information for users or instructional guides; (b) inventory of existing teaching and training materials; (c) a manual entitled Views from the Village published by Gemini News Service, London, which addresses the principles and practice of rural information with illustrations from African and other Third World countries; and (d) a book entitled Communication and Culture: African Perspectives which deals with the issue of communication and cultural development in Africa.

The preliminary versions of the materials were evaluated at a workshop held in Nairobi in February 1990. They were also field tested in regular teaching programmes, workshops and seminars in nine journalism and communication educational institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe between April and October 1990. The field experiment was carried out in the following institutions:

1. The Ghana Institute of Journalism, Accra, Ghana

2. The School of Journalism, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya

3. The Kenya Institute of Mass Communication, Nairobi, Kenya

4. The Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Nigeria

5. The Nigeria Institute of Journalism, Lagos, Nigeria

6. The Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri, Maiduguri, Nigeria

7. The Tanzania School of Journalism, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

8. The Department of Mass Communication, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia

9. The Zimbabwe Institute of Mass Communication, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Suggestions for modifications and improvement from the evaluation workshop held in February 1990 as well as from the field trials were incorporated in the modules the first of which were produced in early 1991. They are:

1. Module on Advanced Writing;

2. Module on Specialized Writing;

3. Module on Development Communication 1;

4. Module on Development Communication 2;

5. Bibliography of Teaching and Study Materials on African Media and Communication Systems.

Copies of the modules were distributed for use in different ways in the education and training of various target audiences in about 100 communication educational institutions and relevant organizations in Anglophone Africa and elsewhere. These included:

1. Various departments/schools of journalism and communication in African universities involved in under-graduate and post-graduate teaching programmes;

2. Pre-university level journalism training institutions;

3. Training units of private and government-linked print and broadcast media establishments; and

4. Ecumenical communication training centres.

Problems and Difficulties

Some of the major problems encountered in the implementation of project activities are:

1. Initial delay of five months in transfer of project funds from UNESCO Headquarters in Paris to ACCE/ICDR in Nairobi;

2. Delays in submission of commissioned materials by communication scholars and trainers because of difficulties in their own working environment;

3. Political problems in certain countries which led to difficulties in corresponding with and closure of some universities where relevant communication educational institutions are located.

Plan and Projections

In spite of the problems just noted, the project to develop communication teaching and study materials in Africa has progressed considerably and moved from a concept or recommendation into a reality. There is an urgent need to pursue and follow up the activities commenced in 1988. In view of this need we submitted in July 1990 a proposal through UNESCO to SIDA for a second phase of the project. This second phase will enable the ACCE to continue and improve upon the positive efforts made so far in the production of relevant teaching and training materials. The second phase of another three years (1991-1994) which has been approved by UNESCO and SIDA will specifically (a) allow for a further updating and expansion of the modules, (b) enable the production of materials in other journalism and communication subject areas which were excluded in the present phase by virtue of time and financial constraints; and (c) make the project achieve greater impact on the development of relevant communication teaching and study materials in Africa.

During the 1991 - 1994 period we intend to:

1. expand the modules which have already been produced by (a) developing additional units on (i) Reporting on culture and religion; (ii) Reporting on women and children affairs; (iii) Reporting on legal issues and courts; and (iv) Reporting on sports for the module on specialized reporting; and (b) developing additional units on case studies of development communication projects in African countries for the modules on development communication;

2. generate new materials (both print and audio-visual) in the following subject areas: (i) Media Management; (ii) Media Law and Ethics; (iii) Journalism and Communication Research Methods; (iv) Advertising and Public Relations; and (v) Radio, Television and Newspaper Production;

3. evaluate the effectiveness of the packages in workshops and other regular teaching situations before distributing them to journalism and communication educational institutions and other relevant organizations in the region.

In addition to the project to develop modules of teaching and study materials, the ACCE is pursuing textbook development projects with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FEF) and the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC). The project with the WACC aims at providing financial assistance to African communication scholars and researchers to produce relevant manuscripts on communication media in the region which can be published in a series entitled African Communication Studies. The FEF, on the other hand, is providing the financial resources for publishing and distributing such books and manuals.

Discussions are also being held with a number of established publishers in such countries as Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia and Zimbabwe with a view to establishing a consortium of publishers and distributors for communication textbooks and other study materials. We anticipate that the establishment of the consortium will facilitate the publishing, distribution and sale of such materials and, on a long-term basis, help make that venture a self-supporting activity.


The economic crisis and financial constraints facing most African countries, among other factors, seem to present formidable difficulties for any venture to publish and distribute communication textbooks. Yet the tremendous growth of mass media organizations, the rapid increase in the number of journalism and communication educational institutions and the growing awareness and concern about the nature of textbooks and materials used in training journalists and other communication professionals seem to be factors which indicate that, with systematic planning, careful and consistent nurturing and support, the development of communication textbooks and study materials can grow into an efficient and effective industry in Africa in the 1990s and beyond.


1. These include a meeting of experts on cooperation among regional communication training institutions, organized with UNESCO support in Paris in April 1983; a Workshop on Journalism Education organized by the Professional Education Section of the International Association for Mass Communication Research (IAMCR) in Prague in August 1984; a Workshop on Textbook Development organized by the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE) in Lome, Togo, in October 1984 and a Seminar on Rural Communication Strategies and Its Implications for Communication Textbook Development in Africa also organized by the ACCE in Ibadan, Nigeria, in September 1987.

2. The ACCE, which was first established in 1976, is a regional non-governmental organization engaged in several aspects of communication: research, publication, education and training, and documentation collection, processing and exchange. It has 78 institutional and about 250 individual members in 33 African countries, most especially in the sub-Saharan region. In recent years, the ACCE has been quite active in the field of textbook and materials production. Since 1986, it has produced (a) seven monographs on the Africa media intended for communication educators, trainers, students and scholars; and (b) a set of simulation materials for use in communication policy and planning courses. The Council also publishes a quarterly scholarly journal for communication research in Africa called Africa Media Review as well as a newsletter, Africom.


Hachten, William A. (1968), "The Training of African Journalists," Gazette, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 101-110.

James, Sybil (1987), "A New Direction in Communication Studies in Nigeria." In P.J. Hills and Margaret McLaren (Eds.): Communication Skills: An International Review. London: Coom Helm, pp. 82-114.

Leaute, Jacques (1962), "The Development of Mass Communication and Professional Training in Africa," Overseas Quarterly, No. 3.

Marathey, Ram and Bourgeios, Michael (1965), "Training for Rural Broadcasting in Africa," Radio Broadcasting Services Development, No. 48. Paris: UNESCO.

Murphy, Sharon M. and Scotton, James F. (1987), "Dependency and Journalism in Africa: Are There Alternative Models?," Africa Media Review, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 11-35.

Nordenstreng, Kaarle and Boafo, S.T. Kwame (1988). Promotion of Textbooks for the Training of Journalists in Anglophone Africa. Budapest: Mass Communication Research Centre.

Quarmnye, Alex and Bebey, Francis (1967), Training for Local Radio and Television. Paris: UNESCO.

Scotton, James F. (1974), "Training in Africa." In: Sydney Head (Ed.). Broadcasting in Africa. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, pp. 281-290.

Ugboajah, Frank O. (1985). "Communication Curricula and Teaching Materials: An Analytical Survey of Anglophone Africa." A Study Submitted to UNESCO, Paris, June 1984.

Back to Main Page