• The new e-learning platform will provide customized and emerging skills on journalism and communication
  • The platform will start by publishing courses on Data Journalism, Multimedia storytelling and Fact-checking in Swahili
  • Trainees will have a mix of free and paid learning content in the future

Getting up-to-date skills in emerging communication and journalism has not been easy in Tanzania. Most of the courses provided by colleges and universities are basics and some of them are becoming obsolete due to ever changing digital technologies.

Even those higher learning institutions which are offering most needed skills in the market such as Digital Journalism and Data Journalism, are doing so at higher prices which most of us cannot afford due to economic hardships. Based on my experience it is hard to find these kinds of institutions in Tanzania.

The best option for someone to sharpen his or her skills has been in-house training or what other colleagues in the learning industry call On-the-job training (OJT).

The ever changing digital technologies have eased how we access new journalism or communication skills through digital platforms. If there is no institution in Tanzania providing skills which are highly demanded in the market, now it is easy to access somewhere in the world where they teach through online platforms. However, this is likely to be a favorable route for colleagues who are fluent in English, the language mostly used in online learning platforms.

Skills gaps among journalists and editors affects everyone

There are few e-learning platforms offering technical skills in the local language, especially Swahili. The absence of learning content in Swahili on emerging journalism and mass communication skills, creates knowledge gaps between journalists or communication practitioners who were lucky to learn English well and those who were not. This is a sad truth.

The knowledge gap between journalists and editors in Tanzania does not only affect themselves as individuals but the whole nation. This is because most Tanzanians access news from news outlets which depend on these journalists to collect news, edit and disseminate to the audience. For example, data published by Afrobarometer on media and access to information in 2021 shows more than two-thirds or 72% of Tanzanians access news on radio every day or a few times a week.

This means that if journalists don’t have fact-checking skills it will be easy to spread misinformation to the public through news, a situation which is more harmful to the society than one would imagine.

As for many issues related to our education in Tanzania, many have been pointing fingers on the knowledge gaps in the media industry to our education system. While it is true, this should not be a hiding place. Let all of us face the truth.

We need to solve this skills crisis together and support everyone in the media and communication industry to ensure they are knowledgeable to empower our nation, Tanzania. These learning interventions are needed more today than any period before for many reasons including media viability.

Trainee in the process of registering on Kozica website. Photo: Daudi Mbapani/Nukta Africa

Partnership will solve skills crisis in Tanzania

I know there are many stakeholders investing in this but we can do better and at high speed to achieve the maximum as we have been doing at Nukta Africa, a Tanzanian digital media company specializing in media research, media training and production of digital and data-driven content and tools.

For five years I and my team at Nukta Africa in partnership with our partners Internews, Tanzania Media Foundation (TMF), UNESCO, Media Council of Tanzania, Hivos, Code for Africa and others have been investing heavily in studying new needed skills, prepare customized lessons and impart the skills to journalists and editors from different media outlets in the country.

Our learning interventions have involved master classes, boot camps and mentorship programs in Data Journalism, Multimedia storytelling, Fact-checking, Social Media management, Narrative storytelling and Renewable energy reporting.

To complement our existing efforts, this February we will start testing our first e-learning platform that is dedicated to emerging journalism and communication skills. The e-learning platform, which we have called Kozica, is meant to provide data and digital storytelling skills in Swahili and on-demand.

Introducing Kozica to solve skill gaps in the media

In this new e-learning platform developed with financial support from UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), we will start offering Multimedia storytelling, Data journalism, and Fact-checking courses in Swahili for free.

While we expect in the future to charge a relatively small amount of fee in some of the premium courses, for now Kozica will be accessed free and all video tutorials will be delivered in our national language which is estimated to be spoken by more than 150 million people. Other learning materials will be delivered in both English and Swahili as we move on.

Kozica will provide a platform to trainers who want to share their skills with others either for free or for a certain amount of training fee. We believe there are media and communication trainers outside there who have serious dedication and passion for improving skills to young men and women in Tanzania. We welcome them to register here so that we can continue improving lives through digital and data-driven tools and content.

Our main aim is to make Kozica, one among the best learning centers in the world offering customized emerging communication and journalism skills. We believe if media staff are equipped with requisite digital and data skills they will be able to create plans and strategies which will support their media organisations to remain sustainable while creating impactful news to our society.

Nuzulack Dausen is a CEO of Nukta Africa, a Tanzanian digital media company specializing in media research, media training and production of digital and data-driven content and tools. He is an experienced international journalist, media trainer and researcher.