N.W Journalists Schooled on Back to School & Elections Reporting

An Elite handing over school items to kids at reopening (Bali)

Media persons drawn from over thirty organs in the North West have been schooled on how to report back to school and elections without stepping on toes. This was during a two day workshop at Up Station Bamenda organised by the Regional Delegation of Communication on  Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th August 2018. Through several presentations by invited resource persons, reporters were taught how to effectively report on the back to school campaign in the two English speaking regions without provoking the wrath of either concerned parties: anti school activists that want a continuation  of the educational system completely grounded and the government that wants schools to effectively resume at all cost. To strike a balance, attendees were encouraged to focus their reports on the importance of education and allow those involved (parents and their children) to decide. A clear example, even anti school activists are able to carry on with their activism because they were educated. Thus if the fight must continue, then it’ll take only the educated to champion it.
On day one of the workshop, in his presentation on The Sociopolitical Environment and Problematic of Back to School in the N.W.R, the communication delegate, Dr. Louis Marie Begne told the media colleagues that in reporting back to school and elections, there are truths that cannot be disclosed because the reporter wants to give peace a chance although it may be against the rules of the profession. This was corroborated by Dr. Ngobesing Suh Romanus, erstwhile CRTV reporter and current Station Manager of Radio Evangelium, Bamenda whom while presenting on The Mass Media as Instrument of Behaviour Modification cautioned attendees to only play their role as journalist in reporting back to school and not become propagandists, activists or public relations officer for any party.
To better equip the practitioners in facing the challenges of reporting on the subject, social media circulated tracks on back to school were printed and given to the journalists to extract vital points that can be used in their reports, some of which carried messages of how there’s been a mass influx of Anglophone students into Francophone schools thus causing a  speedy devaluation of the Anglosaxon system of education the N.W and S.W regions once prided themselves of plus a huge transfer of hard earned money into French regions in the form of fees and rents. Many educational institutions withing the English regions have either been burnt or shut down and are currently undergoing dilapidation, a detriment to the Anglophones and that in fighting for secession, ironically there’s rather been more national integration because thousands of Anglophone families have rather escaped into the French regions to seek refuge.
Speaking on The Contribution of the Media for a Successful and Serene Back to School 2018/2019, Mr. Ephraim Banda Goghomu, Head of the Communication Unit, National Polytechnic University Institute, Bamenda said to the media men and women “The job of reporting is dangerous as there’s high risk of stepping on toes but real journalists must face it with courage, wisdom and prudence.” He simplified his view by saying “To be on the safe side, if you can’t speak for school resumption, it’s better you stay quiet.”
Day two of the workshop focused on media coverage of the October presidential elections and peace in the N.W region. The same facilitators schooled their peers on Peace and Elections Reporting, The Communication Context and Framework of the Oct. 7th Presidential Elections, Education, Sensitisation and Mobilization Before, During and After Elections. Dr. Ngobesing Suh Romanus articulated that “We live in a country where people’s attitude towards elections to say the least is negative. Many don’t register. A good number of those who register don’t even vote. Elsewhere people fight for the right to vote yet are not given it while in Cameroon, people have been given the right to vote yet are not exercising it.” He went ahead to say in elections reporting, journalists ought to present the importance of an election, what it means to vote and not to vote, profile the candidates, their political agendas and campaign plan. Moreover, the reporters were told that during an election, they aren’t different from someone between the lion and the deep sea. That election is the most crucial moment in the life of any country; a time when power is fought for, lost, won or consolidated.
However in doing all of these, journalists must prioritise their security over any other thing for a good journalist wants to report and live after the report so as to keep reporting. As Dr. Ngobesing better put it, “No one sees a wall and goes hitting his head against it because he wants to get it shattered so as to get to the other side.”
Although some  misunderstandings occurred on the last day of the workshop between the Regional Communication Delegate and the Secretary General at the N.W  governor’s office, Mr. Lanyuy Harry Ngwani over control of finances for the project, it was still rated a full success especially as the the financial issues were resolved. A radio magazine and spots on back to school were produced at the end of the workshop and are currently being aired on the stations that partook in the workshop.
It should be recalled that around same time last year when a similar workshop was being held at Up Station Bamenda, good news came in from Yaoundé that the Head of State had authorised the unconditional release of many of those who were arrested and incarcerated at Kondengui in connection with the crisis. This news plus the output of journalists greatly caused a positive and remarkable increase in the functioning of schools and performances at end of year exams within the region. A similar breaking news occurred too this year, few days after the workshop. The Communication Secretary of the Ambazonia Governing Council, Chris Anu announced on social media that parents in the two English speaking regions can now send their children to school but the security of their kids will remain their responsibility because fighting is still on.
Many key public figures, parents and students themselves want schools to resume even if the fighting must continue but the worry of everyone is the fear of the unknown. They wish the two concerned regions could be demilitarized, the remaining detained activists released, a cease fire announced and a return to normalcy, conditions for a conducive learning environment.
Source: http://mbengwionline.blogspot.com/

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