Myanmar welcomes first private journalism school

Myanmar’s first private journalism school opened in Yangon on 14 July marking an important milestone in the country’s evolving media sector. The Myanmar Journalism Institute will offer  journalism training to working journalists from state and private media. A full time diploma course for journalism newcomers will start at the end of the year

“This is an historic moment,” said Thiha Saw, chairman of the school’s board of directors, at the opening ceremony in Yangon in the presence of other Board members and the Consortium of international organisations supporting the school. He described the Myanmar Journalism Institute (MJI) which is locally owned and managed, as “an institute the media industry has been trying to start for many years to professionalise journalism in Myanmar”.

A need for long-term training

In the transitional period that Myanmar is going through, there is an urgent need to provide basic professional skills training to the fast growing and somewhat inexperienced corps of local journalists. While training opportunities have become increasingly available with the influx of organisations wishing to support a growing media sector with newfound freedom, many local media workers have ended up with a multitude of short-term trainings with no progression over time. One of the aims of the school is therefore to break this trend and offer long-term training opportunities and diploma courses to build professional, national journalism capacity, not just amongst journalists, but also amongst editors and media managers.

Building the Myanmar Journalism Institute

The MJI is locally owned and managed by an eight-member Board comprising professionals working in print, broadcast and digital media, all of whom are affiliated with officially registered media houses. Development of the MJI has been underway for two years by way of close cooperation between local actors and members of the Consortium that include Canal France International,  Deutsche Welle, Fojo Media Institute, International Media Support and finally UNESCO in a supportive role. IMS together with Swedish partner FOJO Media Institute have specifically worked to build the educational infrastructure of the Institute and IMS has supported the organisational and structural set-up of the MJI including the establishment of a Board, a Project Steering Committee, the hiring of managerial staff and other structural issues crucial to the day to day running of the Myanmar Journalism Institute.

As part of IMS’ 3 year media development programme in Myanmar (2012-2015) funded by the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian governments, Fojo have been supporting curriculum development and the establishment of national training institutions that can identify trainers and take the lead in designing mid-career training programmes.  Training of trainers has taken place over the last six months in preparation for the first courses in July and four regional workshops in basic journalism skills have so far been held for reporters in four regions in spring this year.

The MJI is now being promoted in Yangon and various regions in Myanmar reaching local media, journalist associations, local government and CSOs across the country with information about the school as the curriculum slowly develops. Read more about the opening of the Myanmar Journalist Institute and IMS’ media development programme in Myanmar here.