An online petition to reinstate the journalism program at the University of Pretoria has gathered just over 100 signatures after being launched this week (at time of publication, for link click here).
Signing of the petition:
Staff and pupils, past and present, have signed the petition that was created on an online website and shared on social media by BA Languages student, Quintus Potgieter. Former head of department Pippa Green and full-time lecturer Marenet Jordaan were among those that signed the petition.
Green said: “I thought it was a pity that the university decided to close it. We were always a practically/professionally orientated program rather than a more academic one, but we focused a lot on rigour in research/reporting and in writing.”
The suspension of the program left many students who had studied a general BA degree unable to take the honours program. Students commented on the petition that they faced problems such as not having an alternative course to study, financial issues involved in relocating to another university and concerns about the impact it will have on the media in the country.
When asked about the petition and the reason for the suspension of the program, the university’s media liaison officer Sanku Tsunke said: “The university had placed the journalism programme in abeyance until the end of this year (2015), whereafter a decision will be made about the programme’s future.”
Potgieter, a presenter on a community radio station who was planning to study with the program said: “Even if you are involved in community radio or local newspapers, how are you supposed to feel adequately equipped without a qualification.”
However there were comments on the petition that suggested the program should be improved if reintroduced such as upgrading the curriculum and modules.
The online petition states: “Journalism is an essential tool in a democracy and is a viable employment opportunity for students … If we remove journalism from our society, it ensures that stories of corruption and stories that inspire this country to be better are forever hidden.”
The program was initially downsized from an undergraduate and honours course to only the honours degree in journalism. Thereafter the BA Honours program in journalism was also suspended as from 2015.
Potgieter plans to take the petition to individual classes in the humanities faculty and reach 200 signatures that he will present to UP in the hope it will reinstate the journalism program at postgraduate level or a four-year undergraduate and honours course.