Religion of Wednesday, 14 September 2011

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Islamic Varsity Laucnches Communication Studies

• With French and Arabic
By Alhaji A. M. Marzuq
The Islamic University College, Ghana (IUCG) has commenced a Bachelor of Arts programme in Communication Studies with specialties in Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations.
The programme, to which admission is still on-going, is part of the university’s academic growth and curriculum development.
Another programme introduced by the university is Bachelor of Human Resource Management as another area of specialization in the Faculty of Business Administration.
The existing areas of specialisation in the Business Administration Faculty are Accounting, Banking and Finance, and Marketing.
It is significant to note that the Communications programme at IUCG comes at a time the nation is bombarded with irresponsible journalism by irresponsible journalists of irresponsible media houses.
This dangerous trend perhaps explains why the IUCG curriculum experts have designed the Communication Studies on the bases of three main values of media practice: intellectualism, professionalism and moralism.
To actualize these values, the curriculum experts have made the contents of the programme an integration of Liberal Arts, Core Media Studies and Moral Disciplines. The models include English Language and Writing Skills, Sociology, Psychology, Political and Human Rights Reporting, and Islamic Theology. These are to broaden the intellectual scope of students, equip them with the essential communications know-how and instil in them a sense of moral responsibility.
As is the case in the realisation of programme objectives in teaching and research, contents alone are not enough. The University has therefore engaged as Faculty of the Communications Programme experienced academics and seasoned media practitioners with requisite academic qualifications.
The Faculty Members are not just to impart knowledge and skills by teaching and supervising theses, but also to offer moral training of their students who are expected to assume the mantle of leadership tomorrow. The lecturers are also to bridge the gap between theory and practice, so that the products would have competitive advantages on the job market. This, they would do in a reasonable faculty-student ratio, an essential element of effective teaching and learning.
Another beautiful feature of the Communications programme at IUCG is its emphasis on multilingual training in English, French and Arabic. This is to sharpen the communication skills of the products and maximise their chances of international employment. Indeed, Anglo-Franco training coupled with Arabic in Communications Education opens many global job opportunities in many aspects of life.
The language component of the programme may also contribute to efforts at combating the downward trend of language proficiency in the communications industry. For instance it is expected to address ungrammatical constructions which are, in recent times, norms in many newspapers and on radio and television.
Among these constructions are the following: “Who did you went there with,” instead of “whom did you go there with? “What is the criteria?” instead of “What are the criteria or What is the criterion?” and “The reason why is I am saying that is because...” instead of “The reason I am saying that is... or I am saying that because...”
The Media and Muslim Society is a model that further makes the Communications Studies at the IUCG unique. This course among others may bring to light the symbiosis between responsible media practice and Islamic teachings. For instance, the journalistic responsibilities of checking and cross-checking are in line with a Quranic Verse that enjoins Muslims to establish the authenticity of an allegation before action to avoid regret after acting on false information.
“Oh you who believe! If a Fasiq (Liar or evil person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful for what you have done.” (Q 49: 6).
This writer hopes that no matter the content, this model will help generate critical opinions on the understanding of news and other media activities from the Islamic perspective.
Since a journalist’s fundamental concern is the dissemination of news, there is the need for agreement on a definition of news permissible within the framework of Quran and Sunnah, the Traditions of Prophet Mohammed.
It is argued that the central force in the Islamic moral system is the concept of Tawhid – the supremacy of one God. Tawhid also implies unity, coherence, and harmony among all parts of the universe. In a way, the concept can serve as the foundation of responsible journalism in Islam. Below is the explanation of this contention:
A journalist who uses his/her faculty of observation, reason, reflection, insight, understanding and wisdom must realize that these are the Amanah (trust) of God and must not be used to injure a human soul or destroy society for the sake of self-promotion or for selling media contents. On the contrary, the journalist should use the divine trust to seek and promote truth, a culture glorified in all civilised societies.
Under the principle of Tawhid another fundamental consideration in communication is the destruction of thought structures based on nepotism, racism, and tribalism.
Besides, it is interesting to observe the relationship between Islamic teachings and the secular concept of social responsibility. Yes, the Social Responsibility Concept which is one of the four major theories of Mass Communications is not different from the Islamic concept of Al-Amaru bi al-maruf wan- nahyi an al-munkar, to wit, commanding right and prohibiting wrong.’
This implies that it is the responsibility of every individual and group, especially the institutions of social or public communication such as the press, radio, television, and cinema, to educate the public on the need to work for the collective growth of society.
It is a historical fact in Islam that many institutions as well as channels of mass communications such as mosques, azan, and Friday khutba (sermon) have used this concept of social responsibility to mobilize public opinion and to persuade individuals to work for the good of society in general and for their own pursuit of good in this world and the hereafter.
However, in a highly individualistic society such as Ghana, the media seem to play a role in sharp contrast to the theory of Social Responsibility. This is evidenced by the shameful decision of a large section of the Ghanaian media to reduce itself to a platform for politics of insults and mercenary journalism.
In fact, it is disheartening to see that whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims, most media practitioners in Ghana are more interested in conflict, contention, disorder, and scandal than in stability, unity, objectivity, and morality.
This is, indeed, a major challenge to the Communications training at the IUCG, which prides itself in scholarly excellence, moral aptitude, and professional development.