The Association for Media Development in South Sudan or AMDISS have graduated at least 55 journalists from the Media Development Institute in Juba last week.
The 55 journalists were the batches 2017/18 and 2018/19 correspondingly.
Among the 55 journalists, 13 were female a figure which has been described as a boost to the number of female journalists in the country.
This is the second graduation ceremony held since the Institute was established in 2014 with its first-class set up in 2015 and graduated in November 2016 respectively.
The graduation ceremony was attended by about 400 dignitaries from the government, partners, and donors such as the USAID represented by US embassy in Juba, Norwegian People’s Aid – NPA, UNESCO, Internews, and other well-wishers.
Speaking during the graduation, the guest of honor who was also the Director of South Sudan Broadcasting Cooperation – SSBC, urged the graduated journalists to invest much input into the media arena in the country.
James Magok Chilim called on the donors and partners to continue supporting MDI and the media sector to create enough open space for information and improve on the access to information.
Magok, therefore, called on the new upcoming journalists to use their media skills to promote justice, rule of law and development, not propaganda and hate speech.
In her remarks, the Chairperson of AMDISS, Mary Ajith advised the graduates to ensure the maximum principle of truthfulness and professionalism.
The chairperson said journalists should not influence public opinion but seek the truth.
“The profession of journalism is where you cannot lie and when we were admitting you we also checked that we don’t have liars among the students because we need people who can stand up and tell the truth,” Mary stated.
Mary dismisses the notion that journalism is a risky profession.
The chairperson emphases that the media accommodates even people trained in other professions as long as one is passionate and talented to be in the media practice.
She encourages the graduates to approach media managers and get to practice in their areas of training.
For his part, the Principal of the Institute Moses Hakim applauded the students upon reaching the far milestone in realizing their passion in the media sector.
Hakim called on the partners to back up the already in place priorities MDI to amplify mass media industry in South Sudan
Jonathan Cebra, the Public Affairs Officer in the U.S Embassy said the young and vibrant aspiring journalists have entered a noble profession and urged the graduates to apply a high level of professionalism in their daily work.
“The USA government and the US people have a long commitment to the people of South Sudan from the formation of this country and beyond,” Mr. Cebra said.
“We have been supporting civil society and free independent media in South Sudan and small grant programs such as supporting MDI and by doing this is making a free and independent media in South Sudan.”
For his part, the student’s representative, Wote Charles appealed to the administration of MDI and AMDISS to consider reviving the Institute’s newspaper MDI Mirror.
He said the Institute’s newspaper ideas which he said was initiated by the 2017/18 batch would help equip the aspiring journalists with a broader understanding of the media work practically.
Mr. Wote asked MDI board to put plans of upgrading the institution into a more advanced journalism institution of learning to enhance the knowledge of the young media practitioners.
“We would like to appeal to AMDISS and MDI to revive the publication of MDI Mirror, which has never been published since it was proposed by the students’ secretariat of MDI the academic year 2017-2018,” said student’s representative.
“This publication will provide an opportunity for students to practice reporting for print media within MDI.”
“We also appeal to AMDISS board that there is to upgrade MDI from Advanced Certificate to a Diploma in case MDI is recognized by the Ministry of Higher Education,” Wote said.
He further appealed to the donors to develop the established MDI studio into an operational radio station to help upcoming broadcast journalists get first-hand skills.
“We would also like to appeal to our donors if possible, the current MDI studio should be upgraded into a small radio station because we believe this will help the trainees who are interested in broadcast journalism to test their voices and gain first-hand professional skills within the Institute,” he concluded.
James Lukudu is one of the students who attended the second graduation ceremony for 55 students who received an advanced certificate in journalism.
Lukudu, a lab technician turned journalist appreciated the USAID for supporting media development in South Sudan.
“I’m grateful to USAID for making it possible for me to achieve my dream of becoming a journalist. I was a lab technician but my love is journalism,” said graduate Lukudu.
After the curriculum was designed and the instructors hired, the MDI journalism certificate program began in February 2016.
Four instructors, two of whom were South Sudanese professionals taught eight different modules, with each of the modules taught in four weeks (20 days) of full-time classroom lessons.
19 students, including four women, graduated after nine months of intense study in November 2016.
According to AMDISS, eighty percent of the graduated journalists have already been retained by media houses.
Association for Media Development in South Sudan or AMDISS, a network of media outlets and organizations in South Sudan established the Media Development Institute in 2014 to promote professional media development in the country.
MDI is supported by the USAID-funded I-STREAM project implemented by Internews.
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