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Dabanga’s remote media training connects aspiring journalists in Sudan despite political turmoil

March 29 - 2022 AMSTERDAM / KHARTOUM
Performance of the Kawaleeb Popular Dance Group in Dalami in South Kordofan (Photo: Dabanga Online Academy / Abdelrahim Kunda)
Performance of the Kawaleeb Popular Dance Group in Dalami in South Kordofan (Photo: Dabanga Online Academy / Abdelrahim Kunda)

Journalism and media training is hard to come by in Sudan, with many schools and universities closed, and others struggling with factors such as economic constraints, limited capacity, and political upheavals.

Dabanga is working towards changing this through its Online Academy, which launched in 2018 and has just wrapped up its third round of modules.

Delivered via WhatsApp in the end of last year, more than 80 aspiring and early-career journalists from across Sudan took part in Dabanga’s latest course: ‘Mobile Journalism – Getting the most out of your Smartphone’.

Lessons were sent out three times per week, and students participated in a class messaging group, moderated by the course coordinator.

With more than a decade of experience in operating remotely and securely as an exiled broadcaster, Dabanga is well-versed in using accessible technologies to connect across vast distances.

“It’s not easy to deal with 80 participants in a group app - it’s a lot of scrolling. But it’s really nice to see people working together, commenting on each other’s contributions,” the course coordinator said.

“It’s not just the trainer and the participants, but it’s the group working together. As always you have very active people and people in the background who would send things later,” she added.

The course covered basic photo, video, and audio techniques as well as online safety and security.

Home farming in El Fula, West Kordofan, 2 October 2021 (Dabanga Online Academy / Eisa Eldaker)

 

Learning during a coup

The latest round of training was interrupted by the military coup d’état of October 25 2021, which led to internet blackouts and significant security risks.

Through the assignments, many participants used the opportunity to capture protests, as well as everyday life, in the lead up and aftermath of this turbulent period.

Giving feedback on the course, participants saw the training as valuable in supporting their pro-democracy work.

“I can use all the skills I learned for the sake of my social responsibility to contribute as a citizen reporter and to educate others as well as post on social media,” one participant said.

“I will use it in my work in the field of media and press service, as well as in publishing on social media sites to support human rights,” added another participant.

Having a haircut in Gaga Refugee Camp, eastern Chad, 2 October 2021 (Dabanga Online Academy / Bashir Daoud)

 

Supporting diverse participants and basic technologies

According to the course coordinator, designing the materials to be tailored to the diverse group of students was challenging, as were technological constraints.

“We really can’t take anything for granted with the training - what people might know or not know,” the course coordinator said.

“Technology is often a problem, as not all students have the most sophisticated telephones. Memories are a problem – one of the participants had to delete the lesson before being able to receive the next one.

“Access to internet connections formed a main problem, but the Sudanese are used to this anyhow, and know where and when to find the best connections.”

Vegetable seller at a market in Omdurman, 24 September 2021
(Dabanga Online Academy / Um Kalsoum Esmat)

 

Self-guided courses on the way

To support future training opportunities, Dabanga’s Online Academy is currently developing and testing new courses on the online platform Totem to also offer self-guided online courses.

The platform will teach more advanced journalism skills, using real-life scenario-based quizzes to test participants’ knowledge.

Courses in the pipeline that will be launched in coming months include: ‘Journalism: Production and Planning’ and ‘Journalism: Research and Reporting’.

A visitor of the Neem Forest Exhibition in Nyala, South Darfur, jokingly wants a plate from a painting,
26 June 2021 (Dabanga Online Agademy / Waleed Yagoub)

 


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