The European Union (EU) funded project designed to build the capacity of The Gambia Media has been launched at a local hotel in Kololi.
Hurled by the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the project seeks to strengthen the media to better contribute to the democratic governance through improving freedom of the press and the quality of information to the public. The project, which is slightly over 600,000 euros, is also aimed at reinforcing gender equality in the media.
Within the framework of the project, professional capacities of media houses, The Gambia Press Union (GPU) and the University of The Gambia’s School of Journalism and Digital Media would be upgraded with a curricula development reform supported.
“The government of the Gambia still uphold its commitment and provide the enabling environment for the media that ensures press freedom; responsible and balance journalism,” said Sheriff Bojang, the Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, as he officially launched the project on Thursday.
Following the repeal of the National Media Commission Act in 2004, he said that the government is still collaborating with The Gambia media fraternity to facilitate that atmosphere of professionalism within a self-regulated environment. He added that this would ensure a more dynamic and responsible press gear towards nation building.
The Information Minister said, his Ministry has outlined a detailed plan, engaging UNESCO and the EU to support the media in the Gambia including a self-regulatory body. He said that government over the years has made significant strive to provide the right environment for vibrant media which he said, has resulted to the proliferation of so many media houses and radio stations.
The Information Minister further explained that efforts are also ongoing to improve the professionalism in the media fraternity through factual and ethical reporting. He also stated that the School of Journalism and Digital Media was created in the University of The Gambia (UTG) to provide the requisite capacity building opportunities for media practitioners.
The EU Ambassador to The Gambia, Attila Lajos, described the media as a driver of economic growth through investment.
He outlined the objective of the project, saying it’s aimed at contributing to better democratic governance and promote excellence in journalism and innovative curricula, as he cited journalism education as an important part of developing free and independent media.
Jean-Pierre Ilbondo, from the UNESCO== Head Office in Namibia, described journalism as an important profession, while expressing delight over supporting both UTG School of Journalism and GPU’s Journalism School.
“We are proud to support two journalism training institutions in The Gambia,” he said, as he expressed optimism that the two institutions would cooperate in future to develop the capacities of journalists in the Gambia.
Dr. Charles Sagoe-Moses, the Acting UN Resident Coordinator, said that the project, when successfully implemented, will contribute to the 2030 Development Agenda’s goal, which he said is goal number 16. This goal, he said: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”
He therefore hailed the EU for funding the project, while thanking the UNESCO for contributing to the development of the curriculum for the School of Journalism of the University of The Gambia.
by Bekai Njie