Thank you, EU and UNESCO!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The latest support by the European Union through its Governance Programme, in collaboration with UNESCO, to the Gambia media deserves huge commendation.

Although these institutions and others like them, have been rendering assistance to the education and media sectors of this country, this latest one is meant to give a serious boost to the media to enable them do their work properly.

The European Union and UNESCO yesterday handed over a support project worth some D35 million to media houses in The Gambia, the Gambia Press Union and the University of The Gambia.

The bodies have undertaken to give such a support to advance democratic governance through improving freedom of the press and the quality of information being disseminated to the population.

The media houses, including the print and electronic media, the Gambia Press Union, and the University of The Gambia need adequate support to enable them carry out their functions and responsibilities professionally for the good and progress of the society.

Presently, media houses in this country are struggling to maintain their publications and staff due to lack of adequate resources, while media practitioners are seriously in need of capacity development.

Therefore, the items, which included digital recorders and cameras, desktops, laptops, printers, external data storage and photocopy machines, are some of right tools and materials needed by the press.

Training is an urgent need for media practitioners; hence it must be given priority by any media outlets in a given society. And that is why we are happy and much elated by the invaluable support being given to us by bodies and institutions like the EU and UNESCO.

The statement of Nelson Mandela, quoted by the EU Ambassador to The Gambia is apt, to say the least, that is, “The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favour. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens.’’

Building such a press, therefore, needs the thorough support of independent institutions and blocs like the EU, UNESCO, the AU and other independent bodies.

The Gambia media outlets and practitioners really need a thorough capacity-building project, like the upcoming project of the EU governance programme, to be more professional in receiving and imparting information, both offline and online.

We, therefore, would like to thank the benefactors of this support project as we hope to realise the fruits of it.

Thank you very much the European Union, UNESCO and the other hands on deck.

“Quality journalism enables citizens to make informed decisions about their society as it also works to expose injustice, corruption and the abuse of power.”

Gwang-Chol Chang