Dr Placide Tapsoba (right) presenting Ipad and other equipment to David Newton

THE POPULATION Council has proposed the introduction of a programme on data use in the curriculum of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ).

Speaking at a stakeholders meeting for the adoption of a programme on population and data use in journalism, Dr Placide Tapsoba, Country Director of the Population Council, explained that the digital age offered opportunities for the collection, storage and dissemination of variety of data.

The existing situation, he said, presented prospects for the use of data in development planning, discourse and evaluation. The data should be available, accurate, reliable, credible and timely.

According to him, for the data to be available to inform discourse, there should be a credible and knowledgeable group which could interpret and transmit the data to the general public.

“One group with the potential to make use of data to inform, debate and discourse is journalists and related communicators. They constitute an interface between data producers, data users and the general public.

“It is important for journalists and communicators to appreciate and understand the concepts associated with data collection, management and use in order to improve upon their reportage to enrich development debates in the country,” he added.

David Newton, Director of GIJ, in a remark stated that recognizing the unique role of journalists and communicators in the understanding, use and dissemination of data, the school introduced a course on population reporting in the 1990s.

He indicated that the United Nations Fund for Population (UNFPA) supported the school to introduce optional courses in population for regular students and a summer course in population reporting for practicing journalists.

The programme, he noted, was discontinued about a decade ago, but the school found it necessary to re-introduce the course in view of the demand for the use of data in reporting.

“This proposed curriculum re-introduces a programme on data reporting at the school which existed in the 1990s. The primary aim was to equip the next generation of journalists and communicators with the knowledge and skills to understand, interpret and use data in their publications,” he noted.

Mr. Newton disclosed that GIJ was one of the main tertiary institutions which trained journalists and other communicators in the country and Africa, hence the responsibility to promote broad-base journalism and understanding of data and population issues for development purposes.

He said the 2010 Population and Housing Census, the monitoring of the Millennium Development Goals and the development agenda of government required that journalists understood and used data in their reportage.

The institute, he said, considered it important to re-introduce a programme on the understanding and use of data in reporting and communication, adding that journalists who were also knowledgeable in data use could contribute in setting the national development agenda.

By Portia Anaman 

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