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Supporting the development of journalism teaching in Azerbaijan
 

 
Budget € 590 840
 
Funding Voluntary contributions, Norway and Turkey
 
Implementation Media Section (Directorate of Co-operation, Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs)
Duration 1 March 2009 – 31 December 2010
 
Objectives Main objective:
Improving the professionalism of journalism graduates in Azerbaijan.
Subsidiary objectives:
The journalism curriculum and teaching practices are brought in line with European standards;
The journalistic and pedagogical skills of university lecturers are improved;
Teaching materials, including online learning courses and textbooks are developed;
Stronger links are forged between journalism students and the media industry.
 
Activities and results in 2010 Technical know-how on best practices of journalism teaching is provided by the BBC World Service Trust in co-operation with the Dublin Institute of Technology and the Norwegian Institute of Journalism. The Council of Europe ensures that the aims of the reform and the content of the curriculum are in line with the organisation’s standards. The key beneficiary is the Journalism Department at Baku Slavic University (having replaced, with the agreement of the donor, the initially envisaged Baku State University).
In its initially proposed version, the project included three strands, which can be viewed either as separate sub-projects or as constituent parts of a comprehensive intervention:
Curriculum modernisation;
Enhancing teaching resources and work placements;
Dissemination and consolidation of the results. Due to the limited funding available, this specific project focused on the first strand, namely Curriculum modernisation. Under this strand, the project set out to achieve the following objectives:
  Promote practice-based journalism teaching;
  Improve the pedagogical and journalistic skills of university lecturers;
  Devise a modular curriculum which responds to the real needs of the media industry.
The project has been very successful in achieving all of the first phase objectives. The implementation of Phase I of the project culminated in the BSU Scientific Council approving the new modular journalism curriculum.  The modular curriculum was initially developed for the following five subjects: TV Journalism, Radio Journalism, Journalism Ethics, New Media and a totally new subject for Azerbaijani journalism teaching – Photojournalism.  By the end of December 2010 the development of teaching materials for each module was completed.
In addition, another five modules on TV Technology, Radio Technology, Print Technology, Print Journalism and Introduction to Journalism were developed.   By the end of the extension period (15/02/2011), the project will have created two new practical labs – a New Media newsroom and a photojournalism lab - and will have trained a basic core of university lecturers in using them for the benefit of the students.
The BBC World Service Trust has worked with academics from British, Norwegian, Irish, Turkish and US universities for the successful development and implementation of the modular curriculum.
 
Assessement and follow-up The project has enjoyed a strong sense of ownership by the teaching staff at the Baku Slavic University and excellent support from the Rector and the management of the university. This has also been a significant factor in improving the pedagogical skills of the lecturers.
The project has created the necessary momentum for changing journalism teaching in Azerbaijan not only at Baku Slavic University but also at other universities who have shown an interest in the programme and attended conferences and seminars. Universities have also expressed an interest in achieving changes in the state standard so that new curricula can be incorporated with greater ease.
There is strong expectation on behalf of the Beneficiary, Baku Slavic University, that the project should complete Phase II as originally intended, allowing the time and necessary resources to embed the new methods and curriculum and make the systematic changes truly sustainable. Baku Slavic University has stated its firm belief that if the project should stop at the current stage, the University would not be able to implement the new curriculum, thus jeopardising its current reputation as being at the forefront of modern journalism education.
The next phase of the project will also have the added benefit of using the modular curriculum which has already been developed, as well as planned new specialist subjects, as a basis for creating new journalism curricula at other Azerbaijani universities. Phase II will particularly focus on working with Baku State University Faculty of Journalism to prepare it for the implementation of a new curriculum.
The secretariat is exploring possibilities for funding to continue with the second and third stages as initially planned and possibly to involve also Baku State University. The project’s design can also serve as a blueprint for reforming journalism education in other member states.