Government says it does not intend to maliciously use ongoing training of journalists across the country for political gains.
The first cohort of 250 journalists have ended a 5-day journalism training programme in Kumasi, under the auspices of the Information Ministry, through the support of USAID.
Critics say the move is to buy and gag beneficiary journalists.
But Deputy Information Minister, Fatimatu Abubakar, has explained that the training is to equip beneficiaries to efficiently and professionally discharge their duties.
“The Honorable Minister, the NMC chair, the GJA President, the GIJ Rector-all these important people who have put their integrity and their knowledge behind this programme only wish for one thing, that, journalists media personalities-all individuals who are within the information sector would educate Ghanaians based on knowledge; based on experience, based on facts and with the prime principle of objectivity and nothing more.”
The first-ever National Media Capacity Enhancement Programme attracted 60 practicing journalists for the training in Kumasi.
It followed a series of engagements with stakeholders in the media industry, including National Media Commission, PRINPAG, GIBA and GJA leading to the development of curriculum by an Independent Working Group.
The Information Ministry, with the support of USAID, are the facilitators of the training which aims at improving media practice in Ghana.
Some radio panellists have suggested the training is an attempt by the government to buy journalists.
“We do not intend to use this platform for any malicious political gain or any traction to support one party or the other.
But to make sure the people who hold the conscience of the country, who have the platforms to educate Ghanaians, will do so properly,” she explained.
Professor Kwamena Kwansah-Aidoo, Rector of Ghana Institute of Journalism is the Chairman of the Working Committee.
He said the committee is independent, adding, the idea of the training has no intent of grooming journalists to promote government business.
“The idea has never been to try and convince journalists to follow government business.
All the programme seeks to do is to build the capacity of journalists and media workers.”
Meanwhile, some participants in the first cohort who shared their thoughts on the issue, expressed misgivings. Whilst underscoring the experience gained from the training, they stated that they cannot be bought.
“The training has become a point of reminder for us to know that some of the things that we take for granted are serious things and it doesn’t matter that if even I eat from the same bowl with you and ethically, you’ve gone wrong, I need to tell the story, says Muniru Ibrahim from Upper West region.
For Francis Morkporkpor of the Volta region, the training was a rare opportunity for him to upgrade his skills.
“It is very rare to see a government supporting journalists to upgrade their skills and come back at them. I commend government for this opportunity. It will be beneficial to me.”
“If you want to improve journalism in this country, there’s a proper need to continue programmes like this. So for me, it’s been enlightening sitting through a training like this,” added, Edem Dei-Tutu from the Eastern region.
At least, 190 more journalists are expected to benefit from the Media Capacity Enhancement Programme this year.
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