Fojo workshop in Ethiopia

Gender in focus when journalism teachers discussed pedagogical methods

Ethiopian Journalism Educators Network (EJEN) just concluded two 2-day workshops, supported by Fojo Media Institute, in Jimma and Addis Ababa on how to achieve more student-active and interactive classrooms in journalism education. The Swedish instructor and senior lecturer in Pedagogy, Kristina Hellberg, from Linnaeus University led the workshops.

Ethiopian Journalism Educators Network, established a few years ago and with members from 26 journalism schools across all regions in Ethiopia, is dedicated to bridging the gap between the classroom and the newsroom, preparing students for what will be expected of them when they leave the classroom. One important aspect of EJEN’s work is to encourage more interactive teaching methods and for students to learn through discussions and practice.

The two recent workshops in Jimma and Addis Ababa focused on exactly that. Led by Kristina Hellberg, Senior Lecturer in Pedagogy at the Linnaeus University, two interactive pedagogical methods were introduced; ‘Problem-Based-Learning’ and the ‘World Café Method’. And, perhaps most importantly, the lecturers from the participating universities were encouraged to try them out. The workshops are part of Fojo Media Institute's project for strenghtening the Ethiopian media sector. 

Demelash Mengistu, assistant professor at the Department of Media and Communication, was one of 16 participating lecturers at the workshop in Jimma.

Demelash Mengistu
Demelash Mengistu, Jimma University. Carl-Magnus Höglund

“First, as the workshop is all about pedagogical methods, it helps to bridge a gap. Our staff don’t have much training in pedagogy. Secondly, it provides an opportunity for teachers to come together to discuss and look for solutions. Thirdly, we will be able to use the methods and tools in our classrooms. We have learned and practiced ‘Problem-Based-Learning’ and the ‘World Café Method’ and we find them easy to use by ourselves.”

During the workshop the participants discussed several situations that may arise in journalism education, for example how to report on abuse of domestic workers in a fair, safe and ethical way, gender perspective in the classroom and how to include students with disability.

The issue of gender in the classroom sparked a lot of discussions. Kristina Hellberg shared a case in which a male student refused to follow instructions from a female student who was assigned as an editor while practicing “newsroom”. One participant chose to accept the challenge. She encouraged the female student to go on and told the male student that he is required to take instructions from a superior. In the end it worked out fine.

Fitih Alemu
Fitih Alemu, one of the founders of Ethiopian Journalism Educators Network (EJEN). Carl-Magnus Höglund

“The fact that there aren’t many female journalism teachers affects research and the way education is carried out. There is a need for a more gender sensitive approach in teaching as well as in research”, says Fitih Alemu, one of the founding members of EJEN and coordinator of the two workshops.

The second workshop in Addis Ababa had fewer participants, but Fitih Alemu believes they will contribute to enhance the quality of journalism education nonetheless.

“Kristina Hellberg helped journalism educators explore important situations in teaching journalism. Most of the participants have only learned general pedagogy, not pedagogy specifically tailored towards journalism and these types of discussions.

Kristina Hellberg
“We have had many fruitful discussions about journalism. We discussed different cases and questions that are important to address in the journalism classroom, such as domestic violence, gender perspective and disabilities,” says Kristina Hellberg, reflecting on her week-long stay in Ethiopia meeting with journalism lecturers from the universities involved in the media development programme “Ethiopian Media in a Time of Change”, run by Fojo Media Institute. Carl-Magnus Höglund

More information:

The workshops were supported by Fojo Media Institute’s programme “Media in a Time of Change: Promoting Journalism and Democracy 2024-2027” which is funded by the Embassy of Sweden in Ethiopia. Kristina Hellberg’s participation was funded by the European Union’s Programme Erasmus+ Mobility scheme.

Text & photos: Carl-Magnus Höglund, Fojo Media Institute