TV chief sees presenters graduate

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Back home in The Gambia, Fatou Jassey and Ebrima Jatta are popular stars on national television. But they became celebrities of a different kind – along with all their fellow students – at Coventry University’s summer graduation ceremonies.

The head of The Gambia’s radio and TV services travelled from the capital, Banjul, to see them both receive good BA Honours degrees at Coventry Cathedral.

And he said he wanted more of his staff to follow the same path at Coventry.

Ebrima and Fatou after receiving their degrees

Ebrima and Fatou after receiving their degrees

When Fatou joined the university to study Journalism and Media, she didn’t tell classmates she was already a professional TV reporter and news reader in her own country.

But it wasn’t unusual for her to hear her name called out by fellow Gambians who spotted her in the street in Coventry and Birmingham.

Fatou celebrates with Journalism course director Dr Bianca Wright

Fatou celebrates with Journalism course director Dr Bianca Wright

She had been given the job when she left school on the personal recommendation of the country’s president – before becoming the first person from The Gambia ever to study Journalism at university.

Ebrima quickly established himself as one of the most lively students in the Ellen Terry Building, home to Coventry’s media courses.

That would not have been a surprise to the many fans of his adventurous travel programmes on Gambian television.

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Click to watch Ebrima present Expedition Gambia

But he showed a studious side as well, emerging from his course with First Class Honours in Media and Communications.

Both students hope to study for masters degrees at Coventry.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 12.12.25Click to watch Fatou present GRTS national news

And their boss, M. Lamin Manga, CEO of Gambia Radio & Television Services (GRTS), was full of praise for the education they have received.

He said: “It will add value not only to Fatou and Ebrima as broadcasters but also to GRTS as an institution.”

M. Lamin was given a tour of the university’s new television studio, The Tank, and the gallery, which enables the facility to connect with social media and broadcast crews in other locations – possibly even in The Gambia. Everything in the studio can be operated by students.

Gambia Craig and M Lamin

M. Lamin was given a tour of the university’s TV studio, The Tank

“I think this has been an excellent opportunity that most of us didn’t have as broadcasters,” said M. Lamin.

“We feel that this could be a long lasting relationship between the Gambia RTS and the university in Coventry.

“Hopefully we can have many more trained here in our quest to build up a training facility as well. So yes, we are hoping to see many many more Gambian students – and by extension, African students – coming to Coventry to add value to our broadcast infrastructure in Africa.

“Fatou and Ebrima will be a shield and a hope for many more broadcast journalists.”

See also: Gambia Radio & Television Services

Read more stories about Journalism at Coventry:

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Simon Pipe is a former print and BBC journalist, now a member of the Journalism teaching team at Coventry University. He also runs an experimental website, St Helena Online, about one of the world's most remote inhabited islands, at www.sthelenaonline.org On Twitter, when he has something to say, he is @simonpipe

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