“Education is one of the most neglected sectors in media, as journalists often consider it boring to report on the subject”, said former education minister Mian Imran Masood at a journalism workshop on Tuesday.
The Ilm-o-Agahi one-day workshop was organized by an NGO and a partner institute of the Centre for International Media Ethics and the Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Networks of the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Ilm Ideas (a three year UK-Aid funded programme). It was a part of an 18-journalism-workshop-series that will be held across Pakistan for education reporters.
Masood said that a lack of authentic information and competing interest of stake holders made it difficult for reporters to follow up on education related policies and issues. He said this also effected investigation of budget allocations.
“Ilm-o-Agahi’s objective is to encourage journalists to create narratives that enable equal access to education,” Programme Manager Asif Farooqui said. He said they hoped to analyse policy reforms in the education sector to ensure that it is strengthened.
There are also plans to introduce special categories for education journalism in the upcoming annual journalism Agahi Awards 2014.
Journalist Mubashir Zaidi said the media should play an active role in promoting education for marginalized segments of society. He said this would help eliminate economic disparity. He added that the media needed to sensitise people about the need for quality education through reporting and highlighting various issues in the sector.
Saad Hamid, a social media expert, said journalism had seen a paradigm shift with the advent of social media. He said this was especially significant for citizen journalism, where ordinary people could be involved in spreading news through social media forums. He said social media had extended the reach of a journalist globally.
He also stressed its role in ‘digital storytelling’. “Gathering news, verifying and publishing has seen a revolutionary change. Social media has taken transparency to higher levels,” he claimed.
Huma Zia, a research and policy analyst at Idara-e-Taleem-o-Agahi, discussed the Annual Status of Education Report’s findings with journalists during the session. She said according to report 16 per cent of children between the ages of five and 16 had no access to school.
She added that 34 per cent of children enrolled in Class 5 could not read a Class 2 story in Urdu, and 38 per cent of Class 5 children could not read English stories. She said that for sustainable growth, the government needed to shift its focus from ‘access’ to access and learning.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2014.
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