Professional bodies play major roles in social and career mobility. This is one basic reason why people strive to be members of professional organizations in the career area. Professional bodies maintain and improve practical and ethical standards. They also encourage fairer access, whether social, gender or race, and discourage discrimination among members. Membership of such associations provides competitive advantage by keeping those involved up-to-date with emerging trends and dynamics within their industry.
The African Council for Communication Education (ACCE) and Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN) are two very prominent bodies which variously play crucial roles in fostering the development of communication and related disciplines in Nigeria. There is unfounded impression that these two organizations are competing against one another, thereby making it a bit difficult for younger scholars to decide on which of them to join. Before going further on this discourse, there is every need to provide a quick overview of these two organizations with a view to understanding their primary aims and objectives. At the end, a verdict would be given on which of the organizations is very relevant for a communication scholar in Nigeria to become a member of.
Let’s begin with the ACCE. Founded in 1974, The ACCE is a non-political and non-profit-making organization concerned with the basic purpose of fostering communication education in Africa. It is the biggest association and forum for media professionals, educators in journalism and cultural studies and associated disciplines in Africa. The council has branches across several countries on the continent. The headquarters is in Nairobi, Kenya. Since its inception, the council, in collaboration with other international bodies, has organized Communication seminars and workshops in various parts of the continent to continuously upgrade the skills of journalists and other communication scholars. ACCE has the basic aim of harmonizing the theory and practice of communication and related disciplines in order to ensure that professionalism is enthroned.
As a professional body, the ACCE seeks to achieve the following;
- Assess the training needs of African Communication training institutions;
- Assist in curriculum design for journalism training institutions requesting its expertise;
- Exchange staff, student and research materials among journalism training institutions in Africa;
- Adapt a system of accreditation among journalism training institutions; and
- Encourage and foster research projects in various communication training institutions of
One foundational aim of ACCE is to ensure that the training and retraining of persons in journalism and other functional areas of communication are given top priority. This the council intends to achieve by monitoring, supervising or screening communication training institutions engaged in training people in these areas.
The regularly held seminars, workshops, and conferences are among the platforms for its operations across Africa. Conferences and Annual General Meetings (AGMs) are also held at national level in various countries where the council exists.
In line with its objectives and activities, the ACCE has, in the past, provided advisory services and consultations to many African governments, institutions and organizations in the formulation of national communication policies and communication strategies especially in the area of using communication for development purposes.
In addition to this, scholarly, professional and well-researched publications, such as the Africa Media Review (at continental level) and the Nigerian Journal of Communication (at national level) are used as complementary means of continuously refreshing the knowledge of journalists and other communication scholars in functional areas of communication and related disciplines.
Let’s take a quick look at an overview of ACSPN. Information on ACSPN website reveals that the Association committed to advance the scholarly study and practice of communication by promoting and facilitating the pursuit of excellence in academic research and professional practice in Nigeria. One of the basic aims of this body is to support the process of shaping communication scholarship, training and practice in Nigeria whilst complementing the work of other bodies with similar aims and building on the potentials of the field of communication in Nigeria, conscious of the needs of the country for critical inputs from communication scholars and professionals to shape a future that will promote growth and development.
The Association is very vibrant and is well recognized by international organizations as a platform that projects communication scholarship and professionalism in Nigeria. For instance, in what looks like an affirmation of the confidence of partners in the capacities of Association, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), recently gave a grant equivalent of $21, 000 (about N7,560,000) to ACSPN, on Media and Information Literacy Non-Curricula Activities. The print and electronic materials to be developed under the contract, were to be used primarily in Nigeria and Sierra-Leone, and targets the non-formal sector. A Content Development Workshop was held from June 14-16, 2019, featuring a team of professionals, academics, artists and related professionals, from across Nigeria, and a respected Sierra-Leonean, as participant. The project was to be completed in six weeks, and expected to open up new options for the localisation and domestication of this global curriculum.
There is no doubting the fact that ACSPN is one of the most vibrant communication-based associations in West Africa. This means Nigerian scholars need this association to grow in their career and expand the horizon of opportunities required to excel in communication education and professionalism.
The final verdict is that both ACCE and ACSPN are very essential to communication scholars in Nigeria. Just as anyone can join two professional bodies at international level such as International Communication Association (ICA) and Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), you can also become an active member of both ACCE and ACSPN. These are two very relevant professional organizations that primarily aim to foster development in communication and related disciplines.