By Precious Ukeje and Ifeoma Ogbodo
As the Mass Communication Department of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, marked its silver jubilee, communication practitioners have called on the department to resuscitate industrial training for students studying Mass Communication.
The call came, Thursday, June 10, on the heels of a revelation that students of the department had for some years, kept away from engaging in industrial training, which, practitioners agreed, made their training one-sided.
The tripartite event that included maiden alumni homecoming and public presentation of the silver jubilee edition of “Unizik Comet Magazine”, featured discussions on diverse subject matters revolving around practical communication and journalism.
Emeka Kalu, Chairman, Radio, Television and Theatre Workers Union, RATTAWU, Southeast Zone, and other practitioners who were in a panel of discussion at the Secretariat of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Branch, expressed shock that such programme they described as important, was not in the curriculum.
The panelists at the discussion, including Tony Okafor, Punch Newspaper correspondent in Anambra State; Mr Mike Umeze; Gab Okpaleze, Director, News and Current Affairs, ABS, Awka; and a veteran broadcaster with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Purity FM, Mgbakwu, Chinedu Madu, agreed that it was important to imbue in the students, industry standards of journalism practice through industrial training attachments with media organizations.
They added that it helped to broaden the knowledge of students in other aspects of communication other than just theories, and also help them to practicalize what they had learnt in the classroom.
Madu of Purity FM told the students that a myriad of media houses abound in Awka, including, Anambra Broadcasting Service, Fides Media, Purity FM, and urged them to spend their breaks doing internships at the houses as it would be of help to their development.
Prof. Godson Okafor, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Unizik, however denied awareness of such development, and described the situation as disheartening.
Prof. Okafor added that such would have been a result of the Department being excluded by the Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme, SIWES, a development that necessitated engaging the students only within the school.
While he disclosed that he would formally bring that to the knowledge of the Head of Department, Prof. Chinwe Uzochukwu, he assured that in the new academic calendar, everything would be fixed with regard to that.
Nevertheless, Prof. Okafor admonished the students to also help themselves, tasking them to search for media organizations, ranging from radio stations, television stations to newspaper houses, depending their areas of interest, where they could volunteer to work with them.
He noted that volunteering would help them get enlightened and well grounded in other aspects of Mass Communication. He further advised the students to take opportunities like the day’s event seriously.
‘Most times, if students dedicate themselves fully to media organizations as volunteers, they are most likely to be retained and such reduces the rate of unemployment in the country,’ Prof. Okafor explained.