Friday, 26 February 2010

Journalism project promotes consumer awareness in local communities


This project has gone a long way in the development of our community, said Ashley Searle, Director of the Office of the Consumer Protector.

Searle, who was speaking at the Service Learning Journalism Reflection event, hosted by the Service Learning Unit, commended journalism students who recently participated in a community project that saw them create awareness around Advice Offices.

These offices, which are the community arm of the Office of the Consumer Protector, a unit within the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, are mandated by law to provide consumer related advice to the public.

In a bid to increase awareness around the services offered at the offices, the students compiled newsletters which were distributed in the various communities.

The project was a collaboration between the Service Learning Unit, the Journalism Department and the Office of the Consumer Protector.

Searle, who was the keynote speaker at the event that was held on 19 February on the Bellville campus, said the newsletters stimulated and enhanced the role that Advice Offices play in communities.

He said while the project benefitted the community, it also added to the development of the students.

“Students had the opportunity to take theory and implement it in the community. This is one of the main reasons why our office saw this project as being relevant,” he said.

“Let us not make this a once off project. There is an opportunity to take this to another level,” said Searle.

Journalism Lecturer and Service Learning Convenor for the project, Clement du Plessis said students got a “taste of what journalism is all about.”

“They were exposed to the community and gained a lot from this experience,” he said.

In total six different newsletters were compiled and distributed in various communities.

Journalism student and group leader, Kobus Pretorius, said it was a “good learning experience.”

Students had to go out into the communities, interview individuals, take photographs and decide on how the information should be packaged.

Pretorius said the project helped students to develop skills which are vital for when they enter the world of work.

Associate Dean of Informatics and Design, Colin Daniels said projects such as these add another dimension to students’ education.

Daniels said it is important that teaching and learning goes beyond the classroom.

Jacqui Scheepers, Manager of the Service Learning Unit said it is important to use the youth in programmes that can impact on local communities.

Scheepers said they will look at rolling out the programme with another group of journalism students in the second term.

By Candes Keating

Photographs: (clockwise) Journalism students who were involved in the project; Ashley Searle, Director of the Office of the Consumer Protector; Jacqui Scheepers, Manager of the Service-Learning Unit; The different newsletters that were produced by the journalism students

Written by CPUT News