In the twentieth part of the article series, educationist Taner Koçyiğit narrated the public relations department formed in Lahore after he shifted from the post of assistant principal to teacher, what he and his colleagues did in the newly-formed department and the interesting process that led to the founding of the first businessmen’s association there.
After working as a vice principal at the PakTurk Islampura Branch in Lahore for a while, I was appointed to the Raiwind Branch as a teacher. In that academic year, it was decided to establish a ‘public relations’ department owing to the increasing number of students and the great public interest in our newly-built school building. I and a few of my teacher colleagues were tasked to organize and boost the cooperation between our school and the parents. Our objective was to interact with our students’ parents inside or outside the school and provide them assistance in any issue they raised. To become more productive in the ‘public relations’ department founded with this objective, our working hours were arranged appropriately. Our weekly lesson schedules were adjusted so we could fulfil both duties efficiently.
Islamiyat teacher Mr. Nida and Turkish teacher Mr. Dogan were the two other members of the public relations department who also took regular classes at the school. Whenever our school had an external need, we as the members of the public relations department tried to solve it in interaction with the parents and the professionals they knew.
Pakistani businesspeople provided support
Meanwhile, the boarding capacity of the school had increased. It was compulsory to meet the financial needs of the dormitory where the scholarship students stayed. Until that day, Turkish businesspeople had met numerous needs of our dorm and the school. Some of the students’ parents we met lately offered to meet those needs and provide personal assistance or to request assistance on our behalf from the philanthropic Pakistani businesspeople they knew. As the public relations department, we thus catered to the financial needs of the scholarship students in our school. We acted as a bridge not only between the school and the parents, but also between the altruistic businesspeople and the students.
Lahore was the cultural capital of Pakistan. It was one of the important business centres due to its proximity to the Indian border and being the capital of Pakistan’s most populous province. Most of our parents in both Islampura and the newly-opened Raiwind branches were tradespeople. When we visited Turkey on cultural trips, we observed that some of our parents sought trade opportunities between the two countries in different fields and even traded directly after their return. We acted in an arrangement for assisting our parents whenever we were available, while teaching was our primary task. For parents who wished to engage in business and trade, we researched companies that produced the goods they wished to purchase from Turkey or reliable Turkish businesspeople to whom they wished to sell products from Pakistan.
The parents needed more information about Turkey
There were nearly 500 students in the newly-opened Raiwind branch of our schools. To contact all parents and respond to their requests, I and my colleagues had to devote all of our time to public relations, and even needed assistants. The number of people who wished to have information about Turkey or go on a touristic or business trip there increased on each day. As the public relations team, we conducted market research with a few acquaintances to better respond to such requests, but we were not always successful.
Meanwhile, a business and trade confederation called TUSKON was incorporated in Turkey. Opening its liaison offices worldwide, TUSKON not only encouraged and coordinated the travel of businesspeople in Turkey to all over the world, but also ensured that foreign investors or traders coming to Turkey had effective meetings with Turkish businessmen, while carrying out trade organizations thoroughly.
A businessmen’s association founded by teachers
We used to contact the TUSKON officials and tried to receive tips on how to do things. TUSKON was exactly an institution where we could direct our business-minded parents. The more we received requests from the parents, the more we directed questions to the TUSKON officials. TUSKON wished to deal with a tangible businessmen’s association rather than volunteer teachers who worked at the school and conducted networking activities through limited means to satisfy the parents’ requests.
As teachers working in our school’s public relations department, we took a step and cater to this need with a purely amateur spirit, without making professional plans and not knowing whether we would succeed or not. In 2008, we started to work on the establishment of such an association.
Under the leadership of our schools’ then-regional director Mr. Turgut and supported by our parents dealing in business and trade, we officially founded a businessmen’s association called PakTurk Businessmen Association (PTBA), in 2012. When the Association was first established, it did not have an office or staff, but it had the support of an impressive confederation like the TUSKON. Thanks to such consistent support, we laid the foundation of a businessmen’s association as a small group of teachers, not knowing it would soon lead to great services.
To be continued…