Free Wits University online media freedom course starts soon

WitsX is inviting enrolment for its free Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression in Africa online course kicking off on 15 June 2020.

Over seven weeks, students will learn the fundamentals of ensuring a free, pluralistic, and independent African media. There are no prerequisites for the course which seeks to attract activists, students, regulators, journalists, lawyers, and everyone alike who want to be empowered to advocate for improved policy and practice in Africa.

“The value in this course lies in its overall understanding of the basics of media policy and then the practical implementation of advocacy to support that,” said frayintermedia CEO Paula Fray, an instructor on the course.

The other expert instructors are Justine Limpitlaw, an electronic communications law consultant and visiting adjunct professor at Wits University’s LINK Centre, Namibia Trust director Zoe Titus, founding executive director Koketso Moeti and Sarah Chiumbu, an associate professor in University of Johannesburg’s school of communication.

The course is in its third year running and comes at an opportune time where the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated media freedom restrictions in Africa.

“We have seen repeated efforts to restrict access to critical information from the press during COVID-19. The media, as an essential service, has never been more important,” said Fray.

Limpitlaw said that while the course was initially meant to take place in October, course organisers decided to make it available to people who may be on lockdown in their homes.

“We are aware that education is a key driver of personal transformation and development and think this course is enormously important for anyone who cares about freedom of expression and access to information, particularly in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that taking it would assist in enhancing people’s skills and expertise,” she said.

The course is supported by international funders including the Bertha Foundation, the Namibian Media Trust, Free Press Unlimited, and FESmedia Africa. With their help, students will not only be able to attend the course free-of-charge but also download all course material for free. Should students want a verified certificate, they would have to pay US $49.

“The course has proven to be enormously popular. Last year the course had 1673 enrolments from 106 countries, including 39 African countries.” Limpitlaw said.

The course is dedicated to the late Southern African media activist Jeanette Minnie, who fought tirelessly to shape media freedom and the policies that govern it in the region.

“We are hoping that women, in particular, will consider taking the course even although women have lower rates of accessing the Internet than men,” Limpitlaw said.

Find out how you can equip yourself to be an activist for African media freedom through the course here.

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