More than 20 journalists in Bunyoro region are back to school scratching books to upgrade in academics in order to cope with the dynamic media technologies and stand strategic for opportunities coming with oil related development within and outside the journalism profession.
The latest bridegroom is Robert Businge aka Washington of Radio Kitara in Masindi municipality who has been awarded a Diploma in Journalism at Kitara Institute of Commerce and Business Studies in Hoima city.
Businge has told Kazi-njema News that his motivation has been the desire to cope with the changing information technology essential in media practice.
Fear for competition from upcoming journalists and the requirements of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) where academic credentials seem to outweigh has been another point.
Fred Byenkya aka Fredo is busy in his first year for a Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication at Cavendish University in Kampala. He is studying online to secure his job as Programme Director at Spice FM in Hoima.
Meanwhile, Pascal Kwesiga, renowned for credible news reporting at New Vision is pursuing his Masters in Communication and International Relations in the United Kingdom.
Journalists including Julius Kyamanywa and Dorcus Drijaru of Community Green Radio and Elizabeth Kamurungi of the Daily Monitor who already had Bachelors Degree in Journalism are gearing up for Masters.They strategically stand to favourably compete on the job market being badly influenced by job seekers filling the streets across the country.
However, most journalists have not upgraded in journalism though they remain practicing for now. As some target juicy official jobs in government and the oil industry, others are scared of the harshening media practice environment in Uganda alongside being paid salaries that they say do not measure up to the services they offer and the risks involved.
Edward Sekika known for his works at the Observer newspaper opted out from active journalism after achieving his bachelors in law, meaning he might be more pleased when you refer to him as ‘Counsel’ Sekika in case you meet him or need his legal support.
Joseph Kasumba, a senior reporter at Liberty Broadcasting Services (LBS) in Hoima envisages his days of chasing news stories edging to expiry as age works against him.
“I feel I will not be able to run up and down for stories in a few years to come. To be honest, I will not be able to withstand teargas I have been encountering during protests. I hope to get a job as an administrator anywhere just like our colleague George Muzoora formerly working with Radio Kitara who is now at a health facility in Masindi”, says Kasumba.
He is pursuing a Bachelor at Teem University, Hoima Branch up from a diploma in journalism attained from Uganda Rural Development and Training Institute (URDT) in Kagadi more than a decade ago.
Kasumba’s workmates; Frederick Makuru Omuhamba and TadeoTuhairwe aka Uncle Tads, too, are registered for bachelors.
Muhamba is for Development Studies at Gulu University alongside Leonard Kaliisa of Radio Maria while Tads is at Teem University for Public Administration.
Andrew Kaahwa aka Mega-mix of Spice FM is for a Bachelor of Business Administration and Management Studies at Multi-tech Business School as Justine Aluriri aka Zanvadi pursues a diploma in journalism at Kitara Institute.
Mosses Kirungi aka Uncle Snow formerly presenting at Spice FM is also for a Bachelor at Teem University as Charlotte Kinobe of Biiso FM in Buliisa is also reading books for a Bachelors of Business Accounting.
In Greater Kibaale, Ismail Kasooha of Vision Group has completed his Bachelor of Public Administration while Robert Kyomuhendo aka Cool Man achieved his Bachelor of Democracy and Development Studies like Ronald Tumusiime of Karuguuza Development Radio (KDR).
Victor Akugizibwe of KDR and Mirian Birungi have also achieved Bachelors of Social Work and Social Administration (SWASA).
Jackson Muhwezi Makolo, a UBC radio correspondent in Masindi is pursuing a diploma at African College of Commerce in Kabaale as Augustus Bigirwenkya rests in politics after achieving his bachelors.
Kazi-njema News’ John Kibego also attained a Bachelors Degree at Gulu University up from a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication attained at Uganda Institute of Business and Media Studies (UIBMS) in Kampala.
There are other journalists upgrading in academics that have not been mentioned here.
Before 2015, it was not possible to get a degree holder amongst media practitioners in Bunyoro. Diplomas and certificates too were hard to find.
John BoscoTugume, the Hoima Media Association (HMA) Chairperson, an umbrella organisation with subscribers across Bunyoro congratulates the journalists upon responding to the call to stand strategic to take up opportunities coming with the oil developments.
To him taking different disciplines is quite amusing because it provides space for the upcoming journalists to practice as these with vast experience move to benefit other sectors.
“As it is said that a journalist is a jack of all trades, they can work anywhere and do a good job. He can be a Public Relations Officer for an organisation, he can be an administrator and a good social worker”, he said.
He notes that many journalists would love to upgrade but their low salaries cannot cater for their tuition alongside other family or individual responsibilities. Almost all journalists have sponsored themselves.
Samuel Kisembo, the Hoima Resident City Commissioner (RCC), congratulates journalists upon the move urging the general public to learn from this example and be able to benefit from both direct and indirect employment opportunities in the oil sector in their home area.
Martin Zinira, the Executive Director for the Albertine Region Civil Society Network (ARCSN) says the journalists are helping to change the image of Bunyoro in relation to academics.
“You know, there has been stereotyping that Banyoro are not educated and using it as an excuse by companies and organisations to discriminate the local persons during recruitment. It is not only journalists but also other professionals are upgrading’, says Zinira.
It is abundantly clear that upgrading is helpful in any way. However, it is important for the young people especially targeting the oil industry to look into acquiring vocational skills.
The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) has on many occasions said the biggest percentage of employment opportunities in the oil industry require technical skills.