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The Students Radio & TV Station (SRTS) is an incubator ground for grooming young journalists, story tellers and leaders.

Photo of Mpindi Abaas

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The Students Radio & TV Station (SRTS) is an incubator ground for grooming young journalists, story tellers and leaders by equipping them with practical market skills to help them make their first step into the market. This idea aims to address the problem of lack of employable skills among young journalists who fail to penetrate the market and earn a living hence the media market becomes populated with people who have not studied the journalism principles which results into ‘bad journalism.’

Over 40,000 young people graduate from Universities in Uganda every year. According to a 2014 World Bank study, 70% of over these 40,000 fresh graduates in Uganda are unable to secure a job because they are unemployable. Another 2014 survey by the Inter-University Council for East Africa states that 63% of youth in Uganda lack employable skills. The problem is not much in lack of employment opportunities but rather having a huge percentage of your employable population lacking the required employable skills for the market.

How the idea works?

Our idea is to start a community radio and TV station which will be student driven and student run. With a radio and TV studio on air we will be able to train, offer internship, employ students as they start but at the same time prepare them for the job market. The station will function like a normal commercial radio/tv station but will provide priority to student talent development from all universities interested in pursuing media as a profession even if such students do not study journalism. This will attract talent at all levels from production, writing, presenting to general management. It will also help to nurture writers for TV through an incubator writing program. This is how the radio and tv station will work;

Learning and working: Students will have a chance to be engaged in a process of learning by doing where they will work on real content that will go on air.

Internship for students: We shall offer internship and apprenticeship opportunities to students in a fast paced professional environment

Employment opportunities for students: The station will also act as a first step for talented individuals by employing them before they join the mainstream job market

Talent Development: The station will identify and develop the students by giving them a chance to fail as they horn their skills before joining the industry where they can’t make a mistake. We will in turn become a recruitment firm for media houses who need talented individuals.

Image title

This video gives you tour of our facility at the academy, however we want to turn this academy into a centre of media excellence where we ca train, offer internship and employment opportunities to the best students. Imagine what it could mean for young people to train live on air, engage and learn in a real media professional setting, be listened and watched by other media houses who would likely scout them and give them a job. 

What did we learn in the process?

Working on this proposal has helped us understand each other as a team but also it helped to get us out of our comfort zones. We have been working with young people for 4 years but the idea of a student radio and tv station is more exciting and has brought the whole team to life

The whole team is now immersed in learning more about human-centred-design and this has helped us realise the importance of personalizing our programs. We have managed to build a strategic plan setting a foundation for the project and with this blue print in place and hence now it is a matter of when and not if. This is the biggest accomplishment and achievement we have had so far. 

Also as an accomplishment, we have managed to get feedback from our end users who believe this idea is a game changer. The interaction and engagement of our end users was very informative and has helped us rethink our programs. 

We have learnt that for any project to be successful, there has to be absolute ownership from the end users and it is empowering for us to know what they want and to engage them.  Based on the feedback we have learnt that the need or challenge is there and our idea is needed to address the challenge.

What is next?

We realise that to start a station will require a lot of resources so our plan is to launch an online media platform that we can use to publish the work of the students and profiling them. The website will be called “Things That Work.Com” with a major focus on sharing success stories of solutions, ideas and things that are working in communities and using a solutions journalism approach promoting ways on how such ways can be replicated in other areas. In the next 6 months we will be able to launch this website and train young people on how to identify and cover solutions journalism stories but also cover things that work in their communities.

Activate the community

For us to kick off this project we need access to funding to acquire equipment for both tv and radio, acquire a license and start-up capital

We would like access to mentorship from people who have worked in the media sector and how we can use such a platform to transform other people’s lives

What skills do we need?

As a young start up we need to learn more about project management, drawing strategy, business development, marketing and leadership. We also need to be empowered more in visual story telling and brainstorming  

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Photo of sam Mlambo

Hello Mpindi,
Thank you for your story and efforts towards training young people in Uganda .
When I was searching the OpenIDEO web page, and I happened to read through the challenge page, my eyes caught up with this impact phase, and having read through most of them have promising results for the youth in East Africa.
In my opinion, I have some few concerns while reading your project.
In Uganda there is high restrictions against press freedom, and some media houses find themselves closed, same to local radio stations, believed to be supporters of the opposition, and others.
From statistics, Uganda produces over 400,000 graduates from higher education yearly ,and only about 5% get jobs. In view of the above, : How confidence are you ,given that the government is not on your side, that your products will have some future,when even radio stations are very few? How do you see yourself in 5 years time, including your beneficiaries, in the trend you have stated?

Mlambo Sam

Photo of Mpindi Abaas

Thank you @Mlambo Sam for this very insightful comment. These are not just your concerns; they are our concerns too. We appreciate this feedback and it helps us to think through on some of these issues and others that act as barrier to our work as storytellers. It's true that there is media restriction in Uganda but it is also very true that Uganda scores high in the region on the issue of media privatisation and media freedom. While media in some countries is only state owned, any investor can establish a media company in Uganda. The environment may not be friendly for journalists in the country; however, it is not different from any other country in the region. Journalists continue to operate on even very sensitive issues that are reported daily in the papers, online, radio and TV. However, this is not to say that we do not experience abuse of press rights.

Does that mean we stop empowering journalists? In my honest opinion our work must continue. This is because we need journalists that are empowered to not only report about the wrong in the country but also tell the good stories of the country.
It is true Uganda produces 400,000 graduates every year and this is a representative of all the courses. Journalism is one of those many courses. The reasons why people don’t get employed is not because there is entirely no opportunities for them. We believe that lack of employable skills contributes highly to graduate unemployment and we believe that if you are good enough with the required market skills, there is always a place for you in the industry. In addition, Sam we may be over optimistic here but we believe the unemployment gap can be bridged when we HAVE graduates who possess the required skills but can also kick start their employment opportunities, just like we are doing here.
Currently it is reported that we have over or around 200 fm stations in the country and around 20 TV stations. These and other media platforms face restrictions like any other media environment but they continue to provide employment opportunities for our growing youth who are enthusiastic about telling our stories. Given that our media landscape has freedom for investors to start new business, we know that the media industry is one of the profitable areas that people want to invest in.

However, such opportunities must find a prepared human resource in place that can take advantage of this space. This is why we exist to prepare our young people to not only work in the media industry but also to work in any other field. We are also aware of young media entrepreneurs who are starting platforms online taking advantage of the growing internet in the country. The next generation of journalists and storyteller as you also know will take advantage of online platforms if they cannot get media space in the traditional media.
It is not true that Government is not on our side. The government understands the fundamental role of journalists and despite the press rights abuse in the country, government continues to work hand in hand with media houses. We actually work with the Government under the Ministry of Information in our projects because the government understands the value of grooming the next generation of journalists. I am confident that we will continue working with the government.
Sam you also ask a very pertinent question. You want to know where we see ourselves in 5 years, including our beneficiaries given the trend you stated. We deal with the present and we work on the now as a team. I wish I could say I DON’T KNOW because as you know trends change and you never know what plans every one of our beneficiaries has. In reality I don’t know what will happen, but I will share with you our dream.
When we started in 2012, we did not know we could make it to 2016 and that we could have over 3000 young people who will have gone through our projects. We would never have predicted that we would have over 50 young people who work on radio, TV and print papers just because of our work. We never predicted we would finally have an academy where we have now trained 70 journalism students since June. Now given our progress, our dream is to create a movement of young journalists in country and region who believe in solutions and knowledge-based journalism; a generation of storytellers who will tell the real Uganda, East African or African story with a local context and narrative.
Are we sure of employment opportunities for our products? YES! Our project is need based and we have studied what is missing in the media industry. From our research, it is not the lack of opportunities. It is the lack of employable skills required by the media industry that is a big cause of unemployment. This is why we are applying for Students and Radio Station so that we can employ, train and students can LEARN AND EARN. Again Sam, thank you so much for these concerns. These are also our concerns TOO and we continue to work on these issues.

Photo of sam Mlambo

Dear Mpindi,
I thank you for your response to my concerns.

I did not mean that you were wrong in your ideas, but the situation in
African and other developing countries today is not favourable for some sensitive jobs, and even there are restrictions on opening new FM Radio stations and News Papers, etc, etc.
Well I talked to some parents and young people, about taking up journalism as a career, no parents liked paying a child for this, and only about 2% of young ones, either liked or undecided!

in addition, as an African, as far as I know, Uganda has turned to be hostile these days and not allowing a free space for media. Please do not say the country scores high, you may even know a lot of stories on sensitive issues, like recently, the other king’s palace in the west, and others, where communication equipment, like cameras, phones and others snatched or confiscated, and raids in Monitor offices, and the like.

So, they are not your problem but I was THINKING that IT WERE BETTER TO THINK OF training JOB CREATORS AND NOT JOB SEEKERS any more, SINCE EVEN what used to be A SURE WAY TO GO ARE NO LONGER EARNING EMPLOYMENT for the youth at all.

Thank you again, and good luck!

Sam Mlambo

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