The Myanmar Journalist Institute (MJI), the country’s first independent journalism school, will be up and running by the middle of this year, promised U Ze Yar Hlaing, chairman of the organizing project committee

“At the moment, we are working hard to get founding members. We are trying to form this institute comprised of respective media department and media organizations across the country. We are also working to be able to open this school, which will provide diplomas after completing one year,” said U Ze Yar Hlaing.

MJI will choose board members and the director at a May conference attended by national news media groups.

“This will be the first (independent) school in this country” U Ze Yar Hlaing said, explaining that students will have direct access to instructors from the media industry in classrooms and online. There will also be scholarships available.

“Although MJI is supported by international groups, it is under our supervision. The donors are just helping for us to be able to stand on our own,” explained Ma Aye Aye Zin, also from the organizing committee.

The new institute is being established with partners Myanmar’s Forever Group, the UNESCO and several European media development organizations.

French Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti said the school will raise the country’s journalism standards. “The aim of the school is to give to young journalists training sessions to help them to produce content of very high quality and also to meet the highest international standards in the freedom of information and quality of information.”

The school will “define journalistic professionalism for Myanmar” said Germany’s Federal President Joachim Gauck.

“The institute aims to be independent, with broad national ownership anchored in civil society and the media industry. It is to reflect international practices in quality journalism education, promote universal journalistic values rooted in ethics, and result in trustworthy reporting.”

Since 2007, the government led National Management College has been running a four-year journalism degree program) at Rangoon University. But many say the school is largely a training school for Burma’s state-run media, acting as a mouthpiece for the government.