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Bringing journalism education into the classroom: Journalism Clubs in Kenya promote media literacy and civic engagement

School children are honoured for the best news stories from their counties in a prize ceremony held by the Kenya Community Media Network

“Participating in the journalism club at my school felt like a dream come true and absolutely mind-blowing. I would love to continue engaging in activities like this as they play a crucial role in shaping my future career,” exclaimed Rahim Agness, a 15-year-old student at St. Dorcas Education Centre in Satellite Kaibiria, Darogetti Constituency in Nairobi County.

Rahim Agness was among the students who joined the journalism clubs in fourteen schools across Kenya. The journalism clubs have been an initiative promoted in cooperation with the Kenya Community Media Network (KCOMNET) as part of a four-year project (2020-2023) funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the Catholic Media Council (CAMECO).

The project ‘Our County - Our Responsibility! Telling Data – Stories Revealing Citizens’ Realities’ has the overarching goal of empowering citizens in eight counties regarding their local development agenda. The aim is to promote civic participation, awareness and transparency in local decision-making processes.


Empowering Kenyan Youth

By engaging community radios and fourteen schools, the purpose of the journalism clubs was to promote media literacy and equip students with the basic elements of journalism – planning articles, interviewing, writing and photography. Participants were encouraged to report on the most pressing stories concerning their communities and counties.

Moses Provabs, KCOMNET’s project manager, highlighted that the journalism clubs have provided school children with a unique opportunity to explore various genres of journalism and gain practical experience.

“This exposure delves into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to craft compelling stories, equipping them with a valuable skill set that extends beyond their school years”, stressed Provabs.

The aim was to bring journalism education into the classroom and give pupils the opportunity to collectively research, write, and edit. These skills empower them to become citizen journalists “capable of reporting on issues affecting their localities and sharing their stories on social media platforms,” argued Provabs.


Revealing students’ unique abilities

Mr Wilberforce, a dedicated educator from Topline Secondary School in the Mukuru Kwa Njenga Slums, emphasised that collaborating with the students in the journalism club revealed their unique abilities.

He noted that the club provided a “platform for students to recognize their strengths and gain an appreciation for the vital work that journalists perform in delivering news directly to their living rooms”.


Best news articles and mentoring opportunities

To recognise the school children’s efforts and their active involvement in the journalism clubs, an award ceremony was held on 15 September 2023, honouring the best journalistic stories. The ceremony took place at the Kenya Community Media Network offices at Shalom House, just off Ngong Road on Daniel Comboni Road.

The event was promoted by KCOMNET and brought together almost two hundred guests – including the fourteen represented schools and organisations working in (inter)national development and in the media, such as the Association of Media Women in Kenya, Hivos, ChildFund, Loyola Center for Media and Communications (Jesuit Hakimani), Kenya Correspondents Association, Waumini Communications from the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), and Internews.

“The primary purpose of bringing together these organizations was to provide the students with valuable mentoring opportunities and explore potential collaborations in the future,” highlighted Provabs from KCOMNET.

He also stressed that university journalism interns in Nairobi County were invited to cover the event for their respective radio stations.

Lecturers from the United States International University, Multimedia University of Kenya and Zetech University College also participated in the ceremony.

An independent jury was appointed to evaluate the most compelling articles. It consisted of a lecturer from the United States International University Kenya, an editor from the community radio station Ruben FM located at the Mukuru slum in Nairobi County, and a representative from the Ministry of Education in Kenya.

Trophies were awarded in three different categories: health and sanitation; education; and infrastructure. The Best Overall Journalism Club was also awarded funding to equip its press clubs.

In addition, all students with the best lead stories received a voucher of KES 10,000 (approx. 60 EUR) to cover their school fees. The teachers were awarded certificates of recognition, and the journalists from the radio stations were also recognised for their contributions.

The Kenya Correspondents Association as well as the online website Talk Africa have expressed their interest in publishing the best stories from each category, while other media have shown interest in continuing to mentor the clubs.