Science journalism programme to extend reach

2018-04-04 06:01

The Science and Technology Youth Journalist Programme (STYJP) is set to be rolled out to two additional provinces in 2019. The programme is already active in seven provinces, including the Northern Cape.

It is an initiative of the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (Saasta), supported by the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), as part of a memorandum of understanding to promote science journalism.

Plans to extend the programme to the remaining two provinces came after some 47 representatives of community media, from all nine provinces, attended a Youth Science Journalism Workshop held by Saasta and the MDDA in Johannesburg on 14 and 15 March.

Launched in 2015-’16 as part of the Innovation Partnership for Rural Development Programme (IPRDP), the STYJP aims to promote science journalism through an internship programme hosted by community media.

The programme is being implemented in district municipalities where IPRDP technologies are demonstrated and primarily accommodates unemployed graduates in Science, Tech­nology, Communication and Jour­nalism between the age of 18 and 35.

“The programme has been rolled out progressively, commencing with 17 interns in the 2015-’16 financial year,” said William Baloyi, MDDA acting chief executive officer.

“With a further eight candidates contracted into the programme in 2016-’17, and 27 interns in 2017-’18, the programme now covers seven of the nine provinces of South Africa, with plans to extend it to the re­maining provinces, the Western Cape and Free State, next year.”

As a partnership between the South African government and major print and broadcasting companies, it promotes and assists in the development of community media and small commercial media in South Africa.

It also aims to raise public awareness regarding media development and diversity issues, and to encourage media literacy and a culture of reading.

The STYJP initiative has reportedly enabled significant media coverage (especially in indigenous languages) generated through community media, as well as various capacity-building opportunities provided to the interns by reporting on issues such as algae-based wastewater treatment, the launch of low-flush sanitation tech­nology, as well as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) progress.

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