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Palestinian universities to pilot model course on safety of journalists

Monday 10 October 2016, by SIGNIS

Ramallah, October, 10th, 2016 (UNESCO). UNESCO and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have teamed up to create a syllabus on journalists’ safety to be used by several Palestinian universities.

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Juman Quneis. © UNESCO/S. McCabe

Saorla McCabe, Programme Specialist at UNESCO explains that currently, no university providing journalism education in Palestine teaches journalists’ safety as part of its regular curriculum. She added that “UNESCO has made the safety of journalists one of its priority areas, and this course is developed within the framework of the implementation of the UN Plan of Action which UNESCO has been mandated to lead”.

The introduction of this course fits within the wider curriculum revision process taking place in Palestine as part of the country’s National Media Strategy. The course will complement the new courses on Media Law, Media Ethics, and Media and Gender currently being developed.

The new syllabus was widely welcomed by the universities. Juman Quneis, Dean of the Media Section at Birzeit University (BZU), expressed BZU’s readiness to integrate the course within its regular curriculum as of next semester. “BZU would like to be the first university in the Arab World to pilot the course and serve as an example for other universities in the region and beyond”, she said. “This course is very important for our students because they are working in a dangerous area and it will help limit the risks to which future journalists are exposed.”

Other universities, including Al-Quds, An-Najah National University and Modern University College (MUC), were equally eager to pilot the course in the near future. Nasser Shiewkhy, Head of MUC, stated: “The MUC is committed to applying this course in a very short time once the appropriate steps have been taken with the Ministry of Education”.

Dina Hawah, a graduate student from An-Najah University, gave her own perspective on the value of the course: "The safety of journalists is an especially important issue here in Palestine where we do not have the minimum standards of safety for journalists. We have seen many examples on Facebook and other social media platforms where journalists have been attacked. We need to ensure journalists’ safety and prepare the new graduates before they move to the field."

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