Africa-Arab States fellowship for journalism students in labour migration reporting

The ILO FAIRWAY programme has conducted back-to-back activities in Uganda and Jordan for journalism students and recent graduates of four universities: Makerere University (Uganda), Uganda Christian University (Uganda), Yarmouk University (Jordan) and Middle East University (Jordan). These activities are the first part of a broader cross-border fellowship aimed at increasing the interest of journalism students in international labour mobility, enhancing their labour migration reporting skills, and fostering cross-border networks to report these stories along a corridor approach.

On October 18-21, a first workshop was organized at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala (Uganda) for 25 students and recent graduates of the two partner universities in Uganda. The four-day activity was facilitated by John Baptist Imokola, media consultant and  lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Communication at Makarere University. Guest speakers included lecturers from the journalism departments of both universities –– ILO consultant Charles Autheman, FAIRWAY programme staff as well as the Uganda Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development.

The training for me was an eye-opener. It was surprising to see that how many stories are out there, even among the journalism students, about labour migration. Getting these different stories, views, and perspectives, but also actual real examples shows that there is more that the professional media can report about labour migration. From the perspective of a trainer, I think it is a lost opportunity for the universities by not including labour and migration issues in their curriculum. It is time for the training institutions to consider including this as part of training."

John Baptist Imokola, media consultant and lecturer at Makarere University

Participants divided their time between technical sessions aimed at expanding their knowledge of the topic matter, lectures on key journalism skills to report the story ethically and responsibly, and an editorial conference type activity to identify possible story ideas.

On November 9th, a similar activity was organized in Jordan for the students of Yarmouk and Middle East University in Amman. The one-day sensitization activity included lectures by Khaled Qudah, journalist at Al Rai newspaper and board member of the Jordanian Press Agency, ILO consultant Charles Autheman, and FAIRWAY programme staff. A lecturer from Al Yarmouk University also participated, providing notable insights during the editorial conference activity.

This workshop was important. It provided us with good background on a topic we don’t always speak about. Students are excited to know more and look forward to the fellowship experience."

Nisreen Abdalla, Dean’s assistant, Faculty of Mass Communication, Yarmouk University

For both workshops, participants were exposed to media productions on the challenges faced by migrant workers along the corridors from East Africa to the middle east. To gain insights on the recruitment process in the countries of origin, participants listened and discussed the New Vision podcast describing the unfair practices that some prospective migrant workers in Uganda. Conversely, participants were familiarized with the lived experiences of some migrant domestic workers in the Middle East by watching the ILO documentary “Thank you Soma” which focuses on the relationship between a Sri Lankan domestic worker and one of the Lebanese child she helped raise.

I’d like to thank the organizers for this good workshop. I look forward to being connected with Ugandan students to know more about them, their stories. Being able to have casual conversations with them would help me learn more about Uganda."

Rahaf Al Ramahi, Yarmouk University

Following the workshops, students were invited to apply for the cross-border fellowship. This month-long program involves 20 students – 10 from each university – on a reporting experience across the Uganda-Jordan migration corridor. Students work in small teams on joint stories, reporting from both ends of the corridor, with mentoring from university lecturers and professional journalists. Some of their productions were showcased around December 18th, 2022, to commemorate International Migrants Day. Read all student anthologies here.

The activity falls within sustained media engagement by the FAIRWAY programme comprising training activities, production of training material and research. It forms part of the broader body of work of the ILO with journalists and journalism education, including the annual Global media competition on labour migration and experiences such as the creation of a labour migration reporting elective course in the Philippines.