Journalism Education in the Universities of Nepal: Gender Perspective

In the print print version, the article is published as:
Adhikary, Nirmala Mani, and Pant, Laxman Datt. (2011). Journalism education in Nepal: Gender perspective. Shweta Shardul, Vol. VIII, pp. 119-123.

Abstract
This paper presents an assessment of journalism education in the universities of Nepal from gender perspective. Here, first various journalism curricula have been reviewed to observe that the existing curricula have excluded gender content, and then, the domination of male and exclusion of female in the curricular process have been highlighted. The paper, presenting instances from both the content and the context, shows that gender exclusion has been institutionalized in the field of journalism education in Nepali universities.

Key Words: Curriculum, Exclusion, Gender, Journalism education

At present, three Nepali universities have been offering tertiary level education on journalism and allied disciplines (see Table 1). Apart from (central) departments in the universities, various undergraduate and graduate colleges are also offering journalism courses according to the curricula set by the universities. And, journalism has already become part of the curricula for secondary and higher secondary level education. Moreover, some institutions are running journalism courses with affiliation to foreign universities/boards.
As it has been observed, “There are different nomenclatures used for the journalism and mass communication degrees and a number of terms are used synonymously. The terminologies like journalism, mass communication and media studies are very common when referring to the degree emphasis by universities in Nepal” (Pant, 2009, p. 20). The existing curricula on journalism/media/mass communication have been classified into following four (Humagain, Parajuli, Maharjan, and Panthi, 2010, p. 16):
1. Journalism and mass communication
2. Media studies
3. Media technology
4. Development communication
It is to note that all of them have incorporated papers/courses on journalism.

The paper is concerned with journalism education in the universities – Tribhuvan University (TU), Purvanchal University (PU), and Kathmandu University (KU) – themselves. Employing the qualitative approach, it first presents a review of the journalism curricula from gender perspective employing the conceptual content analysis technique. Then, the gender composition of institutional bodies responsible for development, implementation and supervision of the curriculum has been observed.

Exclusion of Gender Content in the Curricula

Though journalism education has witnessed significant progress, both in terms of quantity and quality, since its inception in 1976 (2033 B.S.) very few studies have been conducted on the curricular aspects. What follows is a review of nine different curricula set by TU, PU and KU. Of different courses incorporated in the curricula, all the courses are reviewed in case of specialized degrees, and only journalism and mass communication courses are reviewed in case of the degrees that offer journalism as optional. What follows hereafter in this section is based on the earlier study on journalism curricula in Nepal from gender perspective (Adhikary, 2010).

TU

TU offers courses on journalism and mass communication in BA and MA under annual system. The three-year BA curriculum incorporates journalism and mass communication as optional stream (one of the two majors). The curriculum consists of five papers on journalism and allied fields (a total of 500 marks). Though some cross-cutting issues, for instance, ethical considerations while covering sensitive issues related to women (rape victims, nudity), and ‘Sex and Violence in Media’, are mentioned the core journalism courses exclude gender approach and issues.

TU’s MA-JMC is two-year program, and it is specialization degree in journalism and mass communication. According to the curriculum, the students have to study ten papers (a total of 1,000 marks) including the Thesis. All the five papers in part I (First Year) are compulsory, where as the students choose four papers of their choice in part II (Second year) among eight subjects. Thesis is compulsory to all. Neither the curriculum incorporates any specific paper on gender nor any of the papers/subjects do have any units/sub-units and themes on gender or women issues.

Thus, the curricula of TU do not seem gender sensitive. They neither constitute an understanding of basic concepts and approaches for analyzing roles, relationships, and situations from a gender perspective, nor do they particularly consider gender based violence and other gender issues for journalistic reporting.

PU

PU alone offers six programs: BA-JMC, BA-MCJ, BMT, MA-Dev. Comm., MA-MCJ, and MMT.

BA- JMC is three-year program under annual system, and the curriculum consists of eight papers of 100 marks each (80 theories and 20 practical). Of them, there is not any paper that is exclusively concerned with gender contents. None of the papers do either have separate chapters or themes that address gender issues.

BA-MCJ is three-year, six-semester program. The curriculum is of 108 Credit hours. The students have to study 36 courses. Of them, there is not any course that is solely concerned with gender contents. However, three courses – Introduction to Literature [B.A.MCJ 406], Socio-Linguistic and Discourse Analysis [B.A. / MCJ 418], and Media about Human Rights and Democracy [B.A.MCJ 426] – contain some gender content. But, the core journalism courses lack gender perspective. However, above mentioned three courses may contribute for persuading teachers and students to adopt gender sensitivity.

BMT is three-year, six-semester program consisting of a curriculum of 110 Credit hours. The students have to study 37 papers. Of them, there is not any course that is exclusively concerned with gender contents. However, two courses – Media Issues (HR/Gender) [MIHR 2301] and Media and Communication [MC 2401] – contain gender content. Bout, none of the core journalism courses address gender approach and issues.

PU’s Master’s Degree in Development Communication, offered in four semesters, has the curriculum of 78 credit hours including thesis. Though a paper – Planning and Implementing Communication Campaign for Development (515) – contains gender content the core journalism courses lack gender approach and issues at all.

MA-MCJ is two-year, four-semester program. The curriculum is of 71 Credit hours and the students have to study 24 courses. Of them, an optional course – Media and Gender [MCJ 613 JOU] – is devoted to gender issues. However, its inclusion as an optional paper clearly limits its effectiveness even though this particular course seems focused on gender approach and issues. In fact, the number of students majoring this subject has been fairly low. Meanwhile, none of other courses, including the core journalism courses, incorporate gender perspective.

MMT is two-year, four-semester program. The curriculum is of 63 Credit hours and the students have to study 18 courses. Of them, none is devoted for gender content, and there is only one instance of what could be considered, if taken very broadly, being sensitive to gender equity. A paper – Writing for Broadcasting Media [MT 4313] – mentions the need of special considerations for women along with ethnic and other issues of social inclusiveness in broadcast media while producing talk shows and interview. Generally, the curriculum lacks gender sensitivity.

Thus, the curricula of PU have largely excluded gender content. Gender approach and issues have not been considered in the core journalism courses. Whenever some gender references are found in other courses, they do not seem imparting an understanding of basic concepts and approaches for analyzing roles, relationships, and situations from a gender perspective.

KU

KU offers BMS, a four-year, eight-semester program. Currently, the curriculum is of 131 Credit hours and consists of 48 courses (papers). Of them, there is no such course that particularly focuses on gender. Though some papers – including Introduction to Communication Theories [MEDS 101], State and Role of Media in Nepal [MEDS 102], English I [ENGL 151], English II [ENGL 152], Media, Culture and Society [MEDS 202], Advertising [MEDS 205], and Human Rights and Conflict Management [MEDS 351] –consider gender perspective the curriculum does not offer such contents that impart an in-depth understanding of basic concepts essential for gender sensitivity in general. And, the core journalism courses neither consider gender based violence and other gender issues for journalistic reporting nor do impart gender approach for different areas/beats of reporting.

Thus, it is evident that gender is not mainstreamed in the curricula under review. No curriculum has incorporated the gender as a foundation course thereby severely limiting the prospect for imparting theoretical grounding in gender. Even when some gender content is incorporated, the respective papers do not seem imparting an in-depth understanding of basic concepts and approaches for analyzing roles, relationships, and situations from a gender perspective. The core journalism courses in the curricula have completely excluded gender perspective and gender issues. None of them consider the gender dimension of the ‘newsworthy’ events/situations. Moreover, the core journalism courses do not seem considering gender based violence and other gender issues as significant area for news reporting and other journalistic writing.

Exclusion of Women in Institutional Bodies

In the earlier section, it is shown that the core journalism courses in the curricula have excluded gender perspective and gender issues. The politics of exclusion in the content is not an exception; rather, the universities have been practicing this institutionally. In other words, the domination of male and exclusion of female in the curricular process is the present reality of journalism education in the universities of Nepal.

The fact is clearly evident when gender composition of the institutional bodies responsible for development, implementation and supervision of the curriculum is observed. All the three universities have been completely excluding females in their Subject Committees. When there is provision of the Faculty Board, the practice of exclusion has been triumphant again. And, till now, none of the universities has appointed any female as the Dean of concerned Faculty/School. Likewise, only the males have been appointed as the Heads of the Department in TU and KU. Thus, all the actors in the decision making process of curricular development are exclusively men, and females have been absolutely excluded from the institutional bodies responsible in this regard.

The assessment of gender composition of academic faculties also sheds light on the practice of exclusion. Till now, TU has employed males only as permanent faculties of journalism in its Central Department of Journalism, and, likewise, KU’s only permanent faculty of media studies is a male. PU does not have any faculty of journalism in its own right though it alone offers six programs on journalism and allied disciplines. In case of various private/public colleges affiliated to TU and PU, the males comprise the colossal majority of the academic staff teaching journalism and mass communication whereas females constitute the majority of the students. Thus, the exclusion of women is apparent in case of the academic faculties too.

Concluding Remarks

Higher education is one of the most important institutions that can play a critical role in transforming and developing societies. And, the critical role of curriculum in educating, and thereby transforming societies, is apparent. A curriculum could be an effective tool for promoting gender sensitivity in teaching and learning primarily, and espousing sensitivity to a broad range of gender issues in the wider society in the long run. In other words, sensitivity to a broad range of gender issues, in general, and to gender based violence, in particular, could be promoted through curricula, and engendered curriculum will raise students’ awareness and sensitivity thereby enhancing critical thinking.

The forthcoming human resource with academic degrees on journalism is expected to play a significant role in media organizations and media support services, and also in educational institutions, development agencies and other service sectors. With this prospect, if journalism curricula consist of gender component, including gender based violence, they certainly contribute in promoting gender sensitivity in wider milieu. At least, journalism and media education curriculum could be a catalyst for change started from the classroom and aimed for intervention in a wider domain including media criticism from gender perspective and advocacy for gender friendly media content and structure.

The present study shows that gender is largely missing in the curricula under review. Particularly, the core journalism courses have completely excluded gender perspective and gender issues. In fact, gender has not been a consideration in the curricular process.

The exclusion of female from the institutional bodies including the Subject Committees has been common to all of the Nepali universities offering journalism education. The actors in the curricular processes have been exclusively men. Furthermore, the politics of exclusion seems in effect even in employing the academic faculties. At least, the universities have failed to practice gender equity in this regard. Taken all these facts into account, the institutionalization of gender exclusion is clearly observable.

References:

Adhikary, N. M. (2008). Nepalma media nitishastra adhyayan. Media Adhyayan, 3, 293-305.
Adhikary, N. M. (Ed.). (2010). Journalism curricula in Nepal: A study from gender perspective (Unpublished research report). Ekantakuna, Jawalakhel: Sancharika Samuha Nepal.
Humagain, D., Bhatta, K., and Adhikari, K. (2007). Media anusandhan: Prajnik purvadhar nirmanka kehi abhyas. Kathmandu: Martin Chautari.
Humagain, D., Parajuli, S., Maharjan, H., and Panthi, A. (2010). Media talim: Nepali abhyasko lekhajokha. Kathmandu: Martin Chautari.
Pant, L. D. (2009). Journalism and media education in Nepal: A critical overview. Bodhi: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 3(1), 21-34.

About the Authors:
Adhikary is Asst. Professor and Subject Committee Member of Media Studies in Kathmandu University and member of the UNESCO Steering Committee for the Media Development Indicators (MDI) Assessment Research 2011. Formerly, he was the Head of the Dept. of Journalism and Mass Communication in Madan Bhandari Memorial College, Kathmandu.
Pant is communications expert under UNDP’s National Execution Service at LGCDP/MoLD. He has been the Head of the Dept. of Journalism and Mass Communication in National Integrated College, Kathmandu, and Visiting Faculty of Kathmandu University, Nepal and Dhaka University, Bangladesh.

One Response to “Journalism Education in the Universities of Nepal: Gender Perspective”

  1. Manju Thapa Says:

    Nirmal ji, very good and analytical write-up. how can I get the full report of this study ? could you help me ?

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