Who was involved in the design, development and conceptualization of the course?
This Unisa accredited Short Learning Programme was designed and developed by the Unisa College of Agriculture and Environmental Science (UCAES) and the South African Institute for Distance Education (Saide) together with a number of other community development stakeholders from various institutions (e.g. Agricultural Research Council, Medical Research Council, University of KwaZulu-Natal) with expertise in dealing with food security and nutrition issues. The development of the programme was made possible through donor funding provided by the WK Kellogg Foundation.

Why is this programme important, and who does it target?
The Household Food Security Programme targets existing community development workers, home-based carers and other community workers and volunteers working within communities who will be equipped to work closely with identified vulnerable households and together facilitate the changes required to become food-secure and break the cycle of malnutrition and hunger.

The acquired skills will add value to and create synergies with existing government and NGO interventions and initiatives within those communities and balance the availability of relevant support services to all role players to ensure rural development.

What competences and skills will the students acquire from this programme?
Students completing this programme will gain knowledge, values and skills that will enable them to:
  • Link relevant food security issues, concepts, food related policies, strategies and programmes with a household focus for improving food sovereignty and food security.
  • Utilize a range of facilitation and participatory skills, to identify and mobilize households for improved household food security.
  • Assess communities for vulnerability to food insecurity and planning of food and nutrition interventions.
  • Observe and analyze natural resource management systems with community members and make suggestions for appropriate interventions.
  • Devise a variety of ways and means of optimizing food production and the use of various relevant value-adding technologies and processes so as to encourage the development of ideas for purposes of income generation using surplus food and other available resources.

The programme is offered by UNISA as an accredited 1 year short learning programme set at NQF level 5, and consists of six 12 credit modules (a total of 72 credits). For more detail see Figure 1.

How is the programme delivered?
For purposes of ensuring programme sustainability and the formation of synergistic networks and linkages the programme implementation involves a collaborative effort involving various stakeholders from government departments and NGOs who work with programme staff. The stakeholders participate in ensuring extensive community sensitization and engagement to ensure that students on the programme are adequately mentored as they conduct their studies within their communities. To view the programme learning model, see Figure 2.

The programme is delivered mainly through print materials, but supported by promoter-facilitated contact sessions held every two weeks. Activities take place with participating households in the communities who will be learning alongside the students. Students also receive support in the form of supplementary print resources, tutorial letters, workbooks, telephone and SMS support.

Promoters have been given mini-notebooks with 3G cards that they use for purposes of communication, as well as information access and dissemination. A programme website is being developed. It consists of a public site that serves to provide information about the programme but also has a private site for use by stakeholders involved in the programme.

At present the programme is being piloted in the Eastern Cape Province with about 150 students in six groups situated in King William’s Town, Kwelerha, Mthatha and Elliot. The present cohort of students comprise a mix of community development workers, home-based carers, community health workers/promoters, peer educators, volunteer development workers and educators working for Government Departments and NGOs on a variety of social development interventions.

The programme is being closely monitored as it unfolds both in the classroom and in the communities where the students have started to work with vulnerable households.

How will the programme be assessed?

Assessment consists of both formative and summative assessments consisting of assignments (formative assessment = 40%) and community-based portfolio tasks (summative assessment = 60%) that assess student competence. There are no examinations.

What other benefits are there to doing this course?
Apart from the fact that the skills acquired will add value to existing community development initiatives the programme modules are aligned with those in the Unisa Department of Agriculture, Animal Health and Human Ecology’s Human Ecology programme. Those students who successfully complete the course can be granted recognition of prior learning (RPL) access (for students who normally would not qualify) into a learning pathway for further tertiary studies in the Unisa College of Agriculture and Environmental Science.

Associated programme costs
The cost for the entire course is R4 560 i.e. R760 per module. Whilst the course is accredited as a UNISA short learning programme and HEQF quality-assured it does not attract government subsidy and is operated on a non-profit basis. The fees generated are used to pay for costs of learning materials and employing programme promoters.

Limited resources are available to subsidise the fees of needy students.

Who to contact for more information about the programme

  1. Dr Alice Barlow-Zambodla
    Project Leader (SAIDE)
    Email: alicebz@saide.org.za
    Tel: + 27 43 7366 721
    Fax to email: +27 86 608 3904
  2. Mrs Fransa Ferreira
    Programme Coordinator (Unisa)
    Email: ferrefm@unisa.ac.za
    Tel: +27 11 471 2143
    Fax: +27 11 471 386
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