Twenty-Nine journalists from both electronic and print media houses in Malawi have gained knowledge and information on Adult Learning and Education (ALE) through two separate trainings which took place in Lilongwe and Blantyre cities on 25th and 28th June 2021 respectively.
The trainings which drew journalists from both national and community media houses came at a time when the journalists are looking forward to submit articles for 2022 ALE Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi annual awards.
DVV International Regional Director for Southern Africa, David Harrington, in his presentation on ALE, took the journalists through the definition of ALE; programmes that DVV International is implementing in Malawi; and some key challenges of the ALE sector in Malawi.
“There is lack of understanding of the multisectoral nature of youth and adult education. There is need to scale up lobbying and advocacy for ALE with the media,” Harrington told the journalists.
He enlightened the journalists on the recent milestones in Malawi’s ALE sector such as the National Adult Literacy and Education Policy (NALEP) which government of Malawi approved in 2020, and ALE Strategy which is now at validation stage.
To ensure that journalists add relevant background to their articles and reports, Harrington went through the history of ALE in Malawi which dates back to 1947 when adult literacy efforts began with government and churches. He urged the journalists to utilize available resources such as the NALEP to enrich their articles.
“Adult Education is perceived by most Malawians to consist of literacy and numeracy. But it goes beyond this. Adult Learning and Education needs to be understood as multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional learning,” said Harrington.
He said ALE is linked to all the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) hence the journalists have a lot of untapped news angles that they can pursue.
Nyanthepa Community Radio Station Manager David Guta from Nsanje District, who attended the Blantyre training said his understanding of adult education has changed now. “The training has expanded my view of ALE. Initially, I thought ALE is restricted to literacy. But after attending this training, I have learnt that ALE is multifaceted as it also includes civic education and other issues,” said Guta. He said he will share the knowledge with his colleagues who did not attend the meeting.
“As a station manager, I want to see that my newsroom team is able to link ALE to all development areas. Therefore, I will have a session with my colleagues to share what I have learnt here,” he said.
Annie Kamala of Nkhotakota Community Radio who attended the Lilongwe training said after gaining the ALE knowledge and information, her radio station will introduce a special programme on ALE.
“I now see that ALE is important for rural development. Therefore, as a community radio station, we are going to start a special programme for ALE so that various stakeholders in Nkhotakota District should also benefit from the knowledge I have gained from this training,” said Kamala, adding: “we have many Non-Governmental Organisations in Nkhotakota district that are implementing various projects on health, agriculture and environment. Thus, the ALE special programme will make them understand how promotion of ALE can help them to easily achieve their development goals.
During both trainings, MISA Malawi also enlightened the journalists on how this member-based media body works and handles its media awards which annually goes together with World Press Freedom Day celebrations on 3rd May. MISA Malawi Programme Officer, Moses Chitsulo, said the MISA Malawi judges look at articles that have human interest angles. He urged the journalists to research and write articles with facts.
DVV International has been working with the media on the promotion of ALE since it started its operations in Malawi in 2017. In 2020, DVV International in partnership with MISA Malawi introduced ALE Media awards which aim at recognising excellence in as far as reporting of ALE is concerned.
So far, DVV International has awarded excellent journalists for ALE reporting for two years now (2020 and 2021). In 2020, the print award went to John Chirwa of Nation Publications Limited (NPL), while the electronic award went to Chimwemwe Mikwala of YONECO FM Radio. This year, the print award for ALE category went to Wezzie Gausi of Times Group while the electronic award went to Brenda Kaonga of MIJ FM.
Chitsulo predicted tight competition for 2022 ALE awards saying the knowledge and information that the journalists have acquired through the training will give them more energy and appetite to write well-researched ALE articles.