25 February, 2011

FJP year kickstarts with National Promotional Drive

The 2011 Future Journalists Programme (FJP) Year started on a high note. Coordinator, Moagisi Letlhaku, and I, Assistant Coordinator, Nqobile Buthelezi, went on a national Promotional Drive, in the week of the 21st -28th February 2011.

There were three main purposes for this drive. The first was re-market FJP to its partner institutions and to introduce the concept of FJP to new institutions. The second was to showcase FJP’s success over the past 3 years since its inception in July 2007 and to strengthen the ongoing relationship and support for FJP. Thirdly, the promotional drive was a means for FJP coordinators to meet the broader student body and plant the seeds of inspiration and motivation in as many journalism students as possible.

The trip involved hopping around the different provinces, catching morning flights, driving through rush hours to get to the different institution, and in the later stages, being feverish from all the air conditioning and temperature changes! During this adventure, our good friend, Suzie- the Garmin (as we’ve decided to call her) was a good guide throughout the haste!

Amidst the travel & lodging madness, we managed to visit 8 institutions in 5 Provinces. In the viny Western Cape, it was the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Cape Peninsular University of Technology (CPUT). In the province of opportunities, Gauteng, it was the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). In the vast Limpopo, it was the University of Limpopo. In tropical KwaZulu Natal, it was the Durban University of Technology (DUT). Finally, at home, the beloved frontier county, Eastern Cape, it was Walter Sisulu (WSU) University and Fort Hare University (UFH). Whilst en route to the University of Zululand, we were informed of a major strike that had started at the institution, and our meeting had to be cancelled.

FJP Coordinators met with Heads of Departments (HOD’s) and educators, where there was a fruitful exchange of ideas and strengthening of relationships between FJP and all its partners. The various educators gave suggestions how FJP could be a better programme. They mentioned areas of journalism which they would like to be covered in the programme, and together, we devised ways in which the programme can be extended beyond the two FJP participants to include the broader student base.

Also for the first time, FJP coordinators interacted with the greater student body, in their own institutions. Students were introduced to the programme, using a PowerPoint presentation. A question and answer session was used to evaluate whether students had grasped the concept of FJP. Staying true to the culture of Highway Africa, all students who answered questions scored prizes. These were merchandises left over from the Highway Africa Conference freebies, including laptop bags, luggage bags, scarves, CDs and flash-sticks. Each price was accompanied by an Open Source Newspapers to inform students about latest industry discussion as debated at the Highway Africa Conference. The presentation was a motivation for students, who afterwards wanted to know the application procedure so they could stand a chance to be selected to participate in FJP.

It is one thing for FJP to market itself, but it is a different dynamic altogether if the programme’s alumni speak of their FJP experience themselves. It was pleasant indeed to see some alumni present during presentations at their respective institutions. Those alumni who are already in industry took time off from work in order to be present for the drive. They gave live testimonials on how they benefitted from FJP and how the skills they acquired is helping them in the newsroom. Alumni acted as motivational speakers and floor openers before FJP coordinators delivered the presentation. Truly, this is the kind of message we want to send out to students; that FJP is an empowerment programme that offers career and interpersonal growth, where alumni have the confidence to address large crowds and advocate for the programme. The presence of alumni and the camaraderie between them showed that FJP is indeed a home, where students can develop lifelong networks.

The national Promotional Drive was a great success. All objectives it set out to achieve were accomplished. The drive has also been a tone-setter for the 2011 FJP Year. Educators and students have been briefed on what the year has in store for the new group and we are confident that FJP will once again take in the best and most deserving students.
We are grateful to all the educators for allowing us into their institutions, to meet with us and for the opportunity to address students. We are also grateful to those students who showed interest, and to those who have applied in their institutions already.
This was indeed a worthy experience, to be able to meet with colleagues and pave a way forward for such a pioneering project in Africa.

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