By Landing Ceesay
The Gambia’s Media Academy for Journalism and Communication (MAJaC) held its second graduation ceremony on Saturday, February 10th, 2024, sending 38 students from the class of 2023 into the world with Advanced Diploma in Journalism certificates.
Addressing the attendees, Mr. Sang Mendy, the Managing Director of MAJaC, reflected on the institution’s journey, tracing back to its origins as a pilot project fourteen years ago. He commended the transformation of MAJaC into a leading institution fostering excellence in journalism and communication, attributing its success to the dedication of its students and faculty.
Mr. Mendy lauded the diverse cohort of graduates, highlighting the remarkable representation of women at 80.5%, showcasing MAJaC’s dedication to empowerment and inclusivity. Many of these graduates have already embarked on impactful careers, serving as communication officers for governmental, civil society, and international organizations, or holding key editorial positions across various media outlets.
“Today, we celebrate the graduation of 38 exceptional individuals who are worthy both in character and in learning. Among them, 80.5% are women—a testament to the empowerment and inclusion fostered by MAJaC. A good number of these graduates are working as communication officers for Government, civil society, and international organizations, while some hold key positions in newsrooms in various media outlets.
“Graduands, as we bid farewell, I implore you to carry forth the values instilled in you during your time at MAJaC. As you step into the world of journalism, remember that you are not merely reporters but storytellers, entrusted with the sacred duty of illuminating truth and inspiring change. Let your work be guided by integrity, empathy, and a relentless pursuit of justice. You must continue to keep our flag high,” Mr. Mendy said.
As the graduates embark on their professional journeys, Mr. Mendy urged them to uphold the values instilled during their time at MAJaC, emphasizing the role of journalists as storytellers entrusted with the responsibility of illuminating truth and driving positive change. He encouraged them to dream big and strive for excellence, leveraging the foundation laid by MAJaC to navigate challenges with resilience and integrity.
Expressing a vision for the future, Mr. Mendy appealed to the Ministry to support MAJaC staff through scholarships for further education, ensuring the continuity of quality journalism and communication training. Additionally, he advocated for opportunities for outstanding students to pursue advanced studies at the School of Journalism and Digital Media at the University of The Gambia.
“I hope the Ministry will consider supporting MAJaC staff by giving them scholarships for further studies. This would enable them to provide quality journalism and effective communication education for our students. In addition, we would appreciate it if the Ministry could consider giving our most outstanding students opportunities in the form of scholarships to continue their studies at the School of Journalism and Digital Media of the University of The Gambia,” Mr. Mendy said.
In response, Prof. Pierre Gomez, the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science, and Technology, pledged full scholarships to the top five graduating students of MAJaC’s class of 2023 for Bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Communication at the University of The Gambia. Additionally, the Ministry committed to offering scholarships to five students admitted to MAJaC at the certificate or diploma level throughout their training.
“Dear Graduands, you must know that you’re special. You must not bow. You must not compromise your principles. We do not go to school to be parasites. We do not go to school to be beggars. We do not go to school to acquire independence only to start begging again,” Professor Gomez told the graduating students.
Echoing the sentiment of pride and responsibility, Mr. Muhammad S. Bah, President of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), celebrated MAJaC’s legacy of producing transformative journalists who have contributed to societal progress. He emphasized the significance of journalism in upholding democracy and holding power to account, urging graduates to embrace their role with courage and transparency.
“Their exemplary work and dedication have not gone unnoticed, with several accolades and awards to their credit, both nationally and regionally. Allow me to cite a few examples, beginning with my humble self, the managing director of the academy, the secretary general of the GPU, the Quality Officer of MAJaC, etc. We have our alumni working in government; the office of the president and vice, ministries, and international and civil society organisations. The list is inexhaustive, but we will not relent,” Mr. Bah stated.
Mr. Bah said MAJaC is poised to embark on a transformative journey aimed at further enhancing their academic offerings and infrastructure.
As MAJaC looks ahead, Mr. Gibairu Janneh, the guest speaker, underscored the indispensable role of journalism in shaping the narrative of The Gambia. Reflecting on the contributions of historical figures like Edward Francis Small and Deyda Hydara, he emphasized the importance of journalists in ensuring accountability and amplifying the voices of the marginalized.
“Dear Graduands, your job as a journalist is not ordinary. It is sanctioned by the constitution to ensure justice and expose corruption, to give voice to the voiceless, and empower the marginalised. Be open and be transparent because the role of a journalist is not to be a secret agent. The future of The Gambia will be very bright if journalists continue to truthfully uphold not only the government but every duty bearer accountable,” Mr. Janneh stated.
Founded in 2010 by the Gambia Press Union (GPU), MAJaC is a not-for-profit limited liability company dedicated to providing high-quality professional training for media and communication specialists. Aligned with UNESCO standards for journalism education in Africa and accredited by the National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority (NAQAA), MAJaC aims to nurture critical minds for the evolving field of journalism and communication.