Please note ‒ this article concerns a programme run by SciDev.Net.
[KIGALI] SciDev.Net has announced the launch of a two-year pilot training programme for journalists and scientists in Kenya and Nigeria, which it aims to roll out across developing countries.
The programme, called Script, was launched this week (March 27, 2018) at a roundtable event for editors during Africa’s biggest science conference, the Next Einstein Forum in Kigali, Rwanda.
Newspapers in Sub-Saharan Africa operate on tight budgets and few have the capacity to appoint a dedicated science reporter, meaning generalists are often called on to cover complex science stories. An analysis published by SciDev.Net in 2013 identified the need for new training as a key issue for journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa, and in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The objective of Script is to increase the number of articles written about science, in order to increase the application of science in public life and in the development of government policy.
We think that governments and individuals can decide much better if they are making the decision based on scientific facts.
“We do think science affects everything that we do in society, but for it to be able to be useful to society, the information needs to get out there in a way that is interesting to people and in a way that is understandable,” said Charles Wendo, Script’s training coordinator. “Then it can make a difference in their lives.”
The pilot programme, funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation, is aimed at generalist and trainee journalists who want to learn about reporting science, at researchers hoping to get media coverage for their work, and at science communicators.
Isabella Kessel, from the Bosch Foundation, said: “We think that governments and individuals can decide much better if they are making the decision based on scientific facts.”
Christopher Bendana, a reporter specialising on agriculture at Uganda’s New Vision newspaper, said he planned to do the course to learn about reporting new subjects. “I like improving on my skills [and] knowledge,” he said.
Script is being developed in partnership with Radio Nigeria, The Conversation Africa and The Nation Media Group in Kenya. The programme will give successful students the prospect of having their work published in mainstream media. “This provides an opportunity for The Nation to enhance skills among the journalists so I think it will be very useful to us,” said David Aduda, an editor at The Nation Media Group.
The course is available online, and will be included in the curriculums of communication and journalism courses at universities in the region in the coming months.