Higher learning institutions move towards transformation Professor Muhwati
Professor Muhwati

Professor Muhwati

By Tawanda Musarurwa and Victoria Ruzvidzo
The university has also confirmed that the degree programme will be complemented by short courses in financial, economic and business reporting that the institution will start offering this August.

Zimbabwe’s socio-economic and political landscape has transformed over the years, creating the need for institutions of higher learning to respond to this by introducing programmes that make a practical contribution towards the new dictates.

Knowledge is indeed a catalyst for social, economic and industrial transformation and should thus be transferred and applied in sync with demand.

It is in this regard that the University of Zimbabwe has introduced degree programmes in such areas as aeronautical engineering, telecommunications, forensic science, media and journalism, film, radio and television, among others.

Dr Mangudya

Dr Mangudya

It recently held a Media and Business Stakeholders Symposium as a precursor to the introduction of journalism programmes with specialisation in economics. Such special areas as politics are also in the offing.

Financial and business reporting is typically a niche area in the journalism field, and in Zimbabwe the problem has been a general lack of journalism schools that specifically cater for the training requirements of local finance and business reporters.

UZ Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura said there was a yawning gap in financial (and or business reporting) in the country, hence the initiative was critical.

Professor Magosvongwe

Professor Magosvongwe

“There is no doubt that business plays an important role in the economic transformation of the country as well as the improvement of the quality of life among all citizens. Without business, we have no goods or services.

“Therefore quality reporting, that is penetrative, critical and demonstrative of business dynamics and nuances becomes a non-negotiable imperative,” he said.

“It is against this background that we have directed the faculties of Arts and Social Studies to craft regulations for Dual Honours Degree programmes in Media and Economics as well as Media and Politics, to begin with.

“We believe that the programme will produce journalists who are able to report on business and economic development from an informed vantage point.”

The university has also confirmed that the degree programme will be complemented by short courses in financial, economic and business reporting that the institution will start offering this August.

These programmes are meant to equip students and stakeholders with the requisite skills in business and economic reporting. UZ also intends to broaden its human capital base and expertise to become an economic think-tank as it collaborates with the business community and the state on such issues.

Professor Manyeruke

Professor Manyeruke

Financial reporting, which basically refers to the process of producing statements that disclose an organisation’s financial status to management, investors and Government hence, it is of high significance and extremely specialised.

But beyond the lack of training of financial journalists, Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) products development manager Mr Anymore Taruvinga told the Symposium that another major issue around financial reporting relates to the macro-economics of the journalism field itself.

“Our first observation is that there is a conflict between the need to generate sales (readership) and business reporting. This sometimes leads to unconfirmed stories being published — and sometimes retractions; factual errors and omissions,” he said.

His second observation was more as expected:

“The second observation is that there is limited financial literacy by some of the business and financial reporters (interpretation of financials, market statistics).”

In respect of the latter, it is critical that financial journalists must be trained in areas including financial literacy, numeracy and statistics; an overview of the key institutions shaping the economy; relevant terms; using the Internet to access information and data, and economic and socio-economic indicators, like health, education, and unemployment.

By providing investment information, financial reporters, therefore, play a crucial role in ensuring that capital markets value securities correctly and that capital is allocated to deserving institutions.

Educational institutions should, therefore, lead in research and shun from producing half-baked journalists an official has said.

In his remarks at the symposium, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts Professor Itai Muwati said hosting such meetings was aimed at opening up intellectual space while creating a platform for debate, dialogue and strategic conversations on matters pivotal to Zimbabwe’s development.

“It cannot be gainsaid that knowledge is critical in the transformation of our societies. Zimbabwe, like all other societies is running a knowledge economy. And in knowledge economy such platforms as this one provide an auspicious occasion for cross-pollination and cross-validation of ideas.

“The convergence of the nation’s best business and academic brains should help Zimbabwe to unlock and unleash its enormous economic and business potential,” he said.

Department of English chairperson Professor Ruby Magosvongwe said the UZ was mindful of the importance to engage other stakeholders as it sought to produce graduates that would meet market-demand.

In such countries as South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria, institutions of higher learning host departmental chairs to train and sharpen journalists in specialist areas such as business and financial writing, politics, health and others to help produce well-capacitated journalists.

A major constraint highlighted at the meeting was the failure by journalists to access information form companies, Government and other sources. This made life difficult for the journalist.

However, continuous engagements such as the Business symposium held at UZ would break the ice between the media and sources of news.

Reserve bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya, Zimbabwe Network of Editors Forum chairman Dumisani Mleya, The Herald managing editor Victoria Ruzvidzo, Dean of the Faculty of Social Studies Professor Charity Manyeruke, Chairman of the Department of Economics Professor Albert Makochekanwa and other academics, business and media representatives attended the symposium which was sponsored by Schweppes, Nicoz Diamond and New Hope College.

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