Oxford University Press has marked the launch of the first ever Kenyan communication book for undergraduates with a top level debate at Nairobi International Book Fair on the role of communication in the 21st Century, at a time when international research shows that heightened communication skills among staff increase a companies’ sales by up to 47 per cent.
The debate held at the Sarit Centre drew panellists that included Swaleh Mdoe, a Swahili new anchor for Citizen TV; Biko Zulu, blogger and Nation Media Group writer; and two of the book’s authors; Dr Rahab Nyagah the Head of Communication Department at Daystar University and Dr Dorothy Njoroge Assistant Professor at USIU.
The focus on communications as a key platform for professional success has seen public universities across Kenya include communication skills as a compulsory course for every first year student, focussing on types of communication channels, the format of documents, presentation, writing and interpersonal skills.
However, until now, no Kenyan course books were available.
Yet the move to teach undergraduates communication has been spurred by vociferous complaints from employers that in spite of the many honours degrees, graduates arrive in the corporate worldwithout basic employment skills.
The Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College reported in 2013 that more than 60 per cent of employers said job applicants lacked “communication and interpersonal skills” — an increase of about 10 percentage points over two years earlier.
Against this backdrop, the new text book from OUP EA ‘Introduction to Communication’ is based on Kenyan and African case studies, written by Rahab Nyaga, Dorothy Njoroge and Charles Nyambuga all senior heads ofthe Communication and Media departments in Pan African Christian University, United States International University, and Maseno University.
“This book is meant to bring a grounded view to communication, not just for students, but also to people in the communication sector, by giving an overview of what communication entails, in order to help them make informed decisions in their careers,” said Dr Rahab Nyagah the book co-author and Academic Dean and Head of the Department of Communication, Languages and Linguistics at the Pan African Christian University.
The textbook provides course work reference material covering the process of communication, human communication, and public speaking.
“Communication skills are the first requirement for any job, but the fact that many graduates lack this skill shows the need for more emphasis on this topic,” said Rosebelle Otieno, OUP Publishing Manager: “This book is therefore an important resource for Kenya.”
The debate launching the book covered the role of communication in today’s world and identified gaps in this sector.
“The world has completely transformed in the way we communicate and how we access information with the introduction the Internet and specifically social media. However, this has not made us better communicators and the debate set out to address such issues,” said Ms Otieno