By Esther Oguntuase
Technological advancement aided by the internet has lent a hand to media/mass communication students in Nigeria but the media profession still suffers in the hands of incompetent media professionals.
The theoretical aspect of assessing communication students outweighs the practical aspect and this might have its adverse effect on communication students.
Can mass communication be seen as a viable course in Nigeria? Are the institutions offering communication studies living up to expectations? Why are institutions finding it hard to employ good hands and updated equipment in terms of practical?
All these and many other questions were the prime focus of the online session facilitated by Dr. Raphael Abimbola, the Chairman, Editorial Board of Owena Press and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication. The session was organized by the National Association of Mass Communication Students (NAMACOS), AAUA chapter in order to broaden the student’s horizon and enlighten them to think outside the box.
In case you missed the session, here are the points he underlined:
Speaking on the topic, “Experiences, Experiments, and Expectations in media communication,” Dr. Abimbola described the study of Mass Communication in Nigeria as a viable one. According to him, it depends on the student or the graduate of the discipline.
“Remember, ours is a skill-oriented and practical delivery discipline. Reading to pass exams alone in communication studies will only lead one to become an educated illiterate; so one must identify his/her area of interest from the onset and deploy more time and resources to it while in training,” he said.
Dr. Abimbola also explained that the viability of Mass Communication is currently due to the technological advancement and opportunities such as the internet which this generation enjoys when compared to the older generations.
He said: “Opportunities are found in Mass Communication studies; from the core to the adjunct and new media to the applied communication.”
While sharing his personal story, Dr. Abimbola highlighted how he was able to triumph despite not having all the opportunities at his disposal.
“I attended a village secondary school, I didn’t have the opportunity to visit a city or prestigious secondary but when I got to UI (University of Ibadan), normally, I should have an inferiority complex but I dropped it and I made up my mind that I was going to be the head and by the grace of God, I came out to be the Overall Best in my set,” he explained as he compared his generation to this generation.
He further emphasized that during his generation, everything was analogue. The library was analogue and filled with hardcopy books which they had to search for between shelves but today, access to information anywhere in the world can be granted through the use of smartphones so this present generation is better placed.
“The kind of tools used in journalism and media studies now are better. If you visit AIT, NTA, Channels TV etc., and see the type of equipment they use now and if you go to The Punch newspaper, the best printing machine in west Africa is there in Lagos. It can produce 100,000 copies in an hour: so this generation has access to unhindered information flow and if you seize this opportunity, you are going to become a star.”
Dr. Abimbola who was a Senior Journalist before joining the academic opined that institutions offering communication studies are trying their best but their best is definitely below expectation in the overall estimation especially Nigeria.
According to him, he stated that from his own angle, Nigeria institutions are “biting off more than they can chew”. His reasons for this assertion are:
First, they are less equipped with facilities to train students for the various aspects of communication they are offering.
Second, even if they have some equipment, they are either not up to date or grossly inadequate.
Third, the student-teacher ratio is appalling. There are too many students to a lecturer which does not allow for maximum attention to students’ peculiarities thus resulting in mass production.
Also, the admission process is not as thorough as some students who ordinarily are not competent to undergo communications studies find their way into the university.
Lastly, the assessment is too theoretical as the written tests/ exams outweigh the practical tests. He further explained that neither the teachers nor the students were to take the blame when it comes to theoretical approach and practical but Nigeria’s educational system which is highly centralized and non-dynamic and the economy that is certificate driven instead of being knowledge-driven.
Diverting to the splitting of Mass Communication into different courses, he applauded the idea but made mention of some challenges it might face as chiefly being personnel and equipment to drive the specializations.
In addition, he said that funding is another issue; “both students, parents and government are hypocritical in this. University education is capital intensive. Our government has little regard for quality education, that is why they budget less for it despite the huge resources at their disposal and student/parents want cheap education probably because many are poor. So the institutions can’t afford the facilities and required personnel.”
Being a Council Member of National Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and a major stakeholder in the media, he explained that NIPR is to set and maintain standard through training, examination, registration, and post-registration training on a regular basis. He added that this cannot be said of the media industry which is an all-comers’ affair.
According to Dr. Abimbola, NIPR allows students into the body. He stated that NIPR has student membership programme and full membership programme after graduation. He also compared federal institutions and state institutions stating that the difference is slim.
The facilitator said: “Although federal institutions supposedly have more personnel when you compare the workload in terms of both undergraduate and graduate programs, it boils down to the same thing. However, state-owned institutions are worse as most governors proliferate universities ad constituencies project with little or no financial commitment to them.”
In addition, he said that communication students needed vision, discipline and personal development more in their profession because their institution cannot give them all that they require to make it in the competitive world.
Conclusively, he maintained that “Education is not all about classroom learning, it is a lifelong process. Don’t limit your education to only the classroom. Explore things! The internet is available to you. You should prepare adequately for Exams. Remember to use this period to develop and position yourself for the future. There are lots of online training and skills acquisition in communication and relevant fields depending on your future plans. Even if you want to change career after graduation, the time to start developing yourself for it is now.”
Final thoughts: This present generation is equipped with different opportunities and with the aid of these opportunities, they can change the world positively. How do you intend to use these opportunities accorded you by the advancement in telecommunications and automation to affect your generation positively, especially if you are a media student.
Esther. T. Oguntuase, a 200 level student journalist from the Department of Mass Communication, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko.