Students of media faculties in Lebanon face a chronic problem of incompatibility of educational curricula with business markets. The interest of media faculties nowadays are still far from spreading a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation; which leaves generations of media students facing hidden unemployment amongst the current digital development and the need of advanced skills in the digital field.
A study conducted by Maharat Foundation in 2018 entitled “Media Startups in Lebanon”, showed that none of the Lebanese universities integrated a clear specialized material in innovation and entrepreneurship; despite the fact that some universities started developing relevant courses exclusively for masters students.
“The challenges are great” this is how Dr. Iman Aliawan from the media faculty at Beirut Arab University sees the situation, she asks “do students graduate from media faculties to become media professionals or media researchers?”
Dr. Aliawan considers that it is hard to update the educational system rapidly, since the process is related to curricula, values, and goals. This does not prevent the modification of theoretical curricula, especially with the overlap of computer science and business administration with media science. She suggests developing new courses that are compatible with the business market, like the new tools for media work and mobile journalism, and like entrepreneurship and student orientation to conduct their personal projects, in addition to a course that explains the importance and best way to engage with international organizations for the security and safety they provide for journalists.
Dr. Aliawan adds that doctors and professors also face challenges, and that they are counting on the new generation of professors that are more in line with the development, and this in her opinion does not prevent the current generation from becoming involved in the transformation through training courses and personal readings.
Dr. Sahar Charara from the Lebanese International University divides these challenges into two parts, one related to techniques and technology and the other to experiences. She sees that universities face a problem with the equipping news rooms to become compatible with the technology and digital development. She thinks that the main problem lies in the fact that experts in the innovation field and entrepreneurship do not have a media background.
Dr. Charara stresses the importance of integrating courses related to economics, business administration, computer science, and graphics in the media curricula. From her personal experience, she considers encouraging students towards business administration and media startups is not sufficient, but they need additionally to be equipped with a technical, technological, and digital background.
Thus, this shows the challenges faced by media faculties to develop their curricula to become compatible with the business market. These challenges can be summarized by providing techniques, developing curricula, and engaging professors in the digital development. These challenges are threatening the future of many media graduates, especially if the media curricula were not updated. This topic was the theme of a workshop organized by Maharat Foundation in collaboration with Deutsche Welle Akademie gathering academics, media and technology entrepreneurs. The workshop resulted in 5 innovative models aiming at finding ideas to update media curricula in the Arab region.