Minister of Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) and national guidance, Frank Tumwebaze has said that there is need for opening up of Journalism schools if the field is to fully be professionalised.
Tumwebaze said this when he was officiating the 6th East African Commuincation Association (EACA) conference that was organised by Makerere and Uganda Christian University (UCU) held at Grand Global hotel in Kampala on Friday.
He said that, like lawyers do have Law Development Centers (LDCs), Journalism also needs schools that can further train journalists to ensure that those in the field have adequate skills, apart from those acquired from universities and institutes.
"You journalists know that not each one of you is skilled or passed through a university to be fully trained. But even those that pass through universities need to get through a school that trains them to do real journalism like what the laywers do; they go through law faculties in universities, but they are taken to LDCs. Doctors also have medical schools,"Tumwebaze said.
He added: "As a ministry, we have an ICT school and we think we should add on a school that trains journalists - those working and the ones that haven't started working." Tumwebaze said that he has already shared the thought with media trainers from Makerere and UCU, and once his idea is borrowed, he will ensure it's enforced.
However, minister Tumwebaze failed to tell whether the journalists in Uganda, currently, lack the necessary skills or professionalism, something that left some EACA members wondering why he would get an idea of starting a journalism school.
"As far is I know, we fully train the students that go through our departments in these universities," said Monica Chibita, the president of EACA and head of Mass Communication department at UCU. "I think the minister will further explain why he wants to start a journalism school.
EACA was started in 2011. This year's conference has been organised under the theme: "Media and Communication in age of Regionalism". EACA brings together media trainers from East African countries and those journalists interested in the region's journalism to share ideas and devise means of how to improve the quality of journalism in this part of the continent.
The conferencece will end today, Saturday, and delagates who turned up are from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda, USA, Norway and Nigeria.
OPEN GOV'T SESSIONS
In what he termed as a bid to ensure transparency, Tumwebaze said that he will in October this year launch monthly "Open Government Sessions" (OPGs), a move he thinks will reduce corruption in various ministries in the country.
"We are going to put monthly programmes on TVs, social media and radios where each ministry will come and tell us that we received this amount of money in the budget, we have done this and planning to do that. People will also be allowed to ask questions. The government should be opened up. At times the government does great things but they are never known because there is no mechanism of passing this information to the public," Tumwebaze, who is also an MP of Kibale county in Kamwenge District, explained.
Dr William Tayeebwa, the head of Journalism and Communication department at Makerere University said he will closely work with Tumwebaze to ensure professionalism in journalism, by introducing more areas of specialisation in the discipline at Makerere. He said that very soon, Makerere will start a PhD programme in Public Relations.