Sharing knowledge, building networks

Public Relations students were left inspired after a recent event co-hosted by The Public Relations Programme and The Public Relations Institute of South Africa.

The student engagement event, which was held at the Cape Town Hotel School, was aimed at enhancing relationships with alumni and creating dialogue through the theme Building a supportive alumni network.

The event was a second-year student practical.

The four alumni speakers represented, among others, the international non-profit sector, radio and online management. The alumni shared stories about their career paths and milestones, industry expectations and what motivated them to achieve.

The Advancement Department’s Valerie Deelman spoke about the importance of nurturing partnerships with alumni, corporates, government, trusts, foundations and other supporters to help advance teaching and learning at CPUT.

Deidre Porthen, senior lecturer in the Public Relations Programme, thanked the alumni for availing themselves and for motivating the students.

“The session was a success and plans are to make this an annual event.”

CPUT joins efforts to stop missing children

CPUT students have bolstered efforts to keep youngsters safe in three Cape Flats neighbourhoods notorious for missing children.

BTech Public Relations Management (PRM) students partnered with Missing Children SA to implement school visits and workshops in Mitchells Plain, Retreat and Kahyelitsha.

The aim of the workshops was to create awareness of what to do if a child goes missing and to train not only the learners but also their parents about the best steps to take in case of an emergency.

Team leader Jamie-Lee Carelse says they targeted learners in grade seven because those students have influence over younger children in their schools and would be soon leaving to high school where the realities of drugs and human trafficking became more serious.

These workshops, which were conducted throughout the month of August, were conducted at Hazeldene, Delta and Isiphiwo Primary Schools.

During the sessions children were urged to report missing friends as soon as possible and shown videos which showed how easily kids can get snatched.

Grade Seven teacher from Isiphiwo Primary School in Khayelitsha Mr Nxasana, says his learners live in a dangerous community where the possibility of getting stolen is a reality.

“I know it will make a huge contribution to the grade seven learners as they embark on high school in 2017; they can easily fall victim of human trafficking and it can happen to anyone,” he says.

Missing Children South Africa (MCSA) was established in March 2007 in an effort to create awareness on the reality on the number of children who go missing in South Africa. According to figures released by the South African Police Service Missing Persons Bureau 2013, a child goes missing every five hours in South Africa.

Thus far, MCSA, together with the SAPS, has managed to safely bring home 77% of registered missing children.

The organisation runs purely on the generosity of sponsors and donors and is not funded by the government.


Holocaust centre visit changes students’ world view

A three day visit to the Holocaust Centre in Cape Town has forever changed the way a group of CPUT students view the world.

The Public Relations students were split into three groups and each group spent one day learning about the Holocaust and the horrific impact prejudice can have.

PR lecturer Ayesha Toyer says it was her class’s first visit to the centre but she planned on returning annually and also encouraged other lecturers to explore class visits.

“For many, it was their first experience with any content from the Holocaust and they were deeply moved by all the material they came into contact with,” she says.

The students also appreciated the generosity of the centre in hosting them and said they had grown their opinions on topics like propaganda and South Africa’s own apartheid legacy.

Some of the anonymous student comments shared after the visit included;The similar history that Jewish people share with black people is interesting and hopefully the two nations will come together as one.

It has given me a lot of knowledge about the mass murder that happened in WW2 and also the link between the Holocaust and apartheid. The most important point I learnt was the influence of propaganda on people’s minds.


And all that jazz

For nine years Public Relations lecturer Ayesha Toyer has been getting industry experience at one of the most prominent music events in the country- The Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF). Here she explains why she has done it for so many years and what keeps her going….

How did your relationship with CTIJF come about?

I started with the CTIJF in 2007. I just graduated and started working at CPUT as a junior lecturer. Desperate for more industry experience I agreed to take a colleagues place as a Media Liaison working with the TV crews. I jumped at the opportunity and they were so impressed, they called me back the following year and the rest as they say, is history…

Of course the relationship now includes your students as well (this year 24 of them volunteered their assistance) Do you feel anxious that they have quite a big responsibility riding on their inexperienced shoulders?

Not at all. A rather rigorous process is followed before they are selected. They are chosen based on academic excellence, proven expertise in project management and practical experience. They are also considered based on their eagerness to learn and experience new things. More than anything, we select those who work hard and stand out among their peers. We then provide four separate training opportunities and they write a test to prepare them for the festival. They will not be accredited if they are not ready! I therefore have full confidence in their ability and simply sit back and watch them shine. One of the volunteers who worked with me at the festival for four years is now working full time, in the Media Department at the festival.

How do you stay sane between classes, exams and marking coupled with the demands associated with Jazz Fest?

An endless supply of sparkling water and a 1.5 litre flask of coffee which is my guilty pleasure. Also knowing that all of my favourite shows are waiting for me on PVR gives me consolation. Even my beloved little dog moved in with my best friend until after the festival because I am never home. Finally having the support of my department; my HOD, and colleagues definitely help.

What do you get from participating in this experience, apart from a frontline seat to one of the best shows on earth!

I never get to watch the show actually. In the 9 years I’ve worked at the festival, not once have I watched a performance. As a lecturer at a vocational university like CPUT, it is essential for any academic to have considerable industry experience. That knowledge is immeasurable in the classroom. It makes me a better lecturer and researcher because I understand the industry. It also provides my students with an opportunity to work at a world-class event in a meaningful way, in a way where they will actually acquire skills and learn something meaningful from the overall experience.

Will you be back for more next year? 

Yes, they can’t get rid of me…