Reformation in education needed for the communications industry in Namibia

I believe one of my vocations is empowering people through teaching them what I have learned over the years. I have noticed over the years that teaching comes naturally to me, especially if I am teaching on subjects I am passionate about.

 I am blessed to have an opportunity to impart knowledge at some tertiary institutions in the country. However, I noticed that for the industry to produce excellent strategic communicators, a few things need to happen. 

Firstly, I believe more institutions should allow seasoned public relations (PR) practitioners to either be guest or part-time lecturers, as they provide the ‘practical application’ to the academic theories that are taught to students. I am shocked to find, for example, third year students who cannot write a media release or a speech, something which is very basic in the communications field.

 Academics honestly need to come together with industry experts to formulate a curriculum that will push the students to be market ready. There are communication subjects I have seen in the course outlines of some institutions that are no longer relevant for where the world is going. 

Technology, for example, has become a catalyst and an enabler for business communication, and new trends and developments have taken place in that space, which PR practitioners need to take advantage of. 

Various academics and seasoned PR professionals argued over the fact that the majority of work in the PR industry is performed by people who neither have sufficient PR knowledge nor have they received PR education at university.

In fact, some academics cite inadequate training of PR practitioners as a serious cause for concern in the PR profession, as practitioners try to develop their PR skills only through work experience. 

Whereas others found that due to a limited number of PR practitioners undertaking undergraduate PR courses, PR firms and organisations experienced the following problems with people who applied for PR positions: lack of critical thinking, problem-solving skills, poor writing, and presentation skills. It has also been established that some PR practitioners did not have a general understanding of business practices and basic knowledge of the mass media nor how to engage with it.

Further studies found that PR practitioners hired lacked the following competencies: handling legal issues, research and forecasting, financial skills, applying cross-cultural and cross-gender sensitivity, organisational changes and development, issue management, audience segmentation, design and layout using new media, and fluency in a second language. 

If we want to see reform in this industry, the academia and the industry need to come together and improve the curricula for all communication related courses at all levels. Moreover, academics like Cornelissen and Grunig argue that the PR curriculum should be included in business schools/MBA programmes, as these schools will prepare and teach business leaders the importance and relevancy of PR and communications in their organisations. Public Relations is a social science that has not been well understood, therefore, it will be imperative that business leaders also learn the art of communications. 

Morna Ikosa is a Senior Corporate Communications and Brand Reputation Strategist, CPRP, MA, AKA Fixer. To connect, send her a shout-out at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or find her on LinkedIn.






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Last modified on Saturday, 01 October 2022 14:09

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