Introduction – Media Studies
Modest Beginning of the Journey
Media Studies has a very modest beginning and notable history in the University of Jaffna. At the very early stage, it was introduced at the Faculty of Arts, as a part of literature studies, to promote the creative writing of the students. However, it is noteworthy that the then leading figures in the University and some well-wishers from the society especially from the media field determined to introduce media education from a critical sociological perspective. As a result, the University organized a society for film appreciation, by getting support from the interested parties to promote evaluation of the visual media.
Certificate Programme – A Pioneer Course
The Extra Mural Studies Unit of the University conducted a Certificate Course in Journalism, which was one of the pioneering courses for media education in the Northern Province. The Certificate Course in Journalism, when it was introduced, did not purely depend on the University teachers, further acquired help from local journalists who were either professionals or working journalists. All those connected to Journalism – chief editors, news editors, reporters, photo journalists, printers, and distributors – were invited to give input and share their experiences as guest lecturer, which paved the way for the acceptance and utilization by academics, the resources of the local professional media. This course helped to educate not only the students of the University of Jaffna but also different categories of media personnel.
Training Journalists and Establishment of a Resource Centre
In early 2000s, University of Jaffna established a Media Resources and Training Centre (MRTC), a project supported by UNESCO, with the aim of providing professional media practice in Tamil media landscape.
The Media Resources and Training Centre was acted as a platform for the formation of professional journalists in Tamil medium through training in the media field. Further it was operating as a servicing centre for the journalists in capacity building and creating an increasing awareness and understanding on the role of the media among the citizens in Northern Sri Lanka through provision of media literacy.
At the Completion of foreign funding, MRTC winded up its activities in 31st of December 2016 and it has been transformed in the name of ‘Media Lab’ under the Media Studies, Faculty of Arts.
Commencement of Bachelors Degree in Media Studies
In 2007, at the Faculty of Arts, the Media Studies curriculum was drafted with an emphasis on practical skills as well as the theories of communication, with the collaboration of the University of Linnaeus, Sweden. This was recommended as a subject of an Arts Degree, by the Faculty Board and by the Senate and eventually approved by the Council of University of Jaffna. Later, on 10th October 2013, the University Grants Commission approved this Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies Programme which was the first, and to date, the only degree programme in Media Studies in Tamil medium offered in Sri Lanka and attracts students from various regions.
In 2016, the curriculum of Media Studies was revisited in order to maintain the aspects of Sri Lanka Quality Framework and modified as per the Outcome Based Education (OBE) and Students Centered Learning (SCL).
At present, Media Studies is functioning under the patronage of Dean, Faculty of Arts and offering Bachelor Degree programme in Media Studies and it will reach the status of the Department very soon.