Students in the School of Journalism and Communication (SJC) were relocated from the UR-Huye Campus to Kigali five years ago, as part of broad reforms at the varsity. However, they left behind Radio Salus, which they were using for practical training in broadcast. The station is yet to be relocated to Kigali, students say this has created a gap.
Radio Salus was established with the primary purpose of providing a hands-on learning experience for journalism students. It was established in 2005 at the former National University of Rwanda (currently University of Rwanda, Huye Campus).
The station was a result of a project backed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that saught to create a new, independent media outlet with the main objective of building media capacity, enhance democracy, encourage community debate, and improve the university’s journalism school by providing practical skills.
Yet students have been facing challenges to access the radio facilities, since the School of Journalism and Communication was relocated to Kigali in 2012, leaving the Radio station in Huye.
A student, who preferred not to be named in order to speak freely, described the situation:
“Radio Salus was created to provide hands on learning experience for students, but we no longer have access to it. It is now five years since the School of Journalism was relocated to Kigali but the radio station remains in Huye to date. The radio is our laboratory as journalists.”
If the radio station is relocated near learners, it will be helpful for the students, among other things, because it’s not easy to find internships for practical training in Rwandan media houses. Moreover, in case a student gets training at a certain media house, they also struggle to get transport fare.
“We need the radio to be relocated as soon as possible, otherwise the university will graduate half-backed students”, the student said.
Expect more practical skills
Bernard Sukuru, another journalism student, echoed his colleague’s message saying that students face many challenges to get training in other media houses while they are in year one and two.
“When we apply for training to a media house they reply asking ‘have you got any experience?’. And they refuse because they think that the trainee will be a burden for them instead of improving their business. The world of today needs competitive people. For us, journalism students, it is necessary to have enough training to meet our future goals and make an impact on the journalism profession once we graduate. The University has the primary responsibility to train us, because many media houses are there for business purposes,” Sukuru said.
Ag Dean: ”There is a plan”
Mr. Joseph Njuguna, Ag Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication, explained about the progress on the plan to relocate the radio station.
“There is a plan to move the station from Huye to where the School of Journalism and Communication is relocated in Gikondo. We are aware that the radio is there for training students. The University is looking for an appropriate place on Campus where to move the Radio,’’ Njuguna explained.
He added that once the relocation is done, students will have full access to the studio and this will improve their practical skills in broadcasting production.
“Students will be able to practise what they learn in class theoretically. The University is still identifying the right location to set up the infranstructure,” he said. But he did not say when the relocation process is expected to be completed.
Some facts about SJC
- The School of Journalism and Communication was established in Butare (Huye) in 1996.
- In 2011 the school was relocated from Huye to Kigali, Nyarugenge Campus.
- In February 2017 the school moved from Nyarugenge to Gikondo Campus.
- 335 students are attending the School of Journalism and Communication this academic year.