Responses from Program Participants

Report on 2009 Pedagogy of Action Programme
By Sthembiso Nkosi aka Malcolm X

The Pedagogy of Action module is designed and coordinated by Dr. Nesha Hannif from the University of Michigan, and she uses it to reach out to communities through a student work experience. The module is orally and creatively presented explaining all the scientific terms associated with HIV/AIDS in simplest terms that can be understood by any person. It starts by simplifying blood components, terms and their functions. It then illustrates in simple terms, four ways of how the disease is transmitted. This is the simplest way to give clarity to any person and dissolve the myths associated with the disease. It then further teaches about different stages that an HIV positive individual go through before having AIDS and how they should be treated and cared for.

On the first day of the programme Peer Educators both students and staff were introduced to Dr. Nesha Hannif and her students from the University of Michigan by Dr. Zethu Mkhize the HIV/AIDS Programme Manager from The University of Zululand. On this day lanyards are formed where junior Peer Educators were paired with senior Peer Educators. There was an icebreaker where we all get to know each other the UMICH and UNIZUL students.

The junior Peer Educators and some seniors whom were attending the module for the first time were grouped together and the seniors, whom were the graduates of the POA HIV/AIDS module from 2008, are interviewed about their experience on how they have utilized the module. This included the number of people they had reached out to and shared the information with and what was their response.

The module is an informal way of teaching; it stimulates creativity about real events in a form of a story that will draw the audience attention and be easily understood. Most stories spark a debate that evolve around the myths and stigma associated with the HIV/AIDS disease which makes the audience to ask questions, grasp the information and understand the content.

The juniors were taught by their respective facilitators whom were senior Unizul Peer Educators and Umich students and they were required to teach back in English. With the facilitators satisfaction they were paired and asked to translate the module content in their vernacular where one will teach in the vernacular language and the other will translate to English. And again the person whom was translating to English will teach in English and the other person translates to the vernacular language.

Conclusively the POA HIV/AIDS module has been an integral component of the Peer Education Programme. There was a breakthrough as most Peer Educators had a problem of advocating the information that they acquire in workshops. The English saying goes: “tell me I will forget, show me I will remember and involve me I will understand”, this is what people especially those illiterate need for them to learn with understanding. The ball is now on the Peer Educators court to play it in helping our country in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

University Student Responses:

. . .I hope you guys had a safe trip. I was just complementing you on your work, guys. I have gained a lot from it and I am now applying it like a game to my other peers. . . .
—Portia (Peer educator at the University of Zululand)

When we come back next term I have a lot to look forward to, I will be presenting the module to some of the neighborhood high schools and primary schools, and this will be like my first time standing in front of students who appear to be at the same age as mine, but I hope I will have the same confidence I had when you were here guys. Besides the module that you were teaching us we had so much fun, actually I could say I learned a lot. . . .
—Slindie (Peer educator at the University of Zululand)

I am also happy that my acronyms have been ratified by my fellow Congolese. I would rather say our acronyms, since your participation was very significant. I hope this work can effectively contribute to creating an HIV- free world. . . .”
—Clemént (PhD student of Law at the University of Witwatersrand)

I just want to thank you guys for the wonderful job you did.  It is quite incredible what you made us here achieve for just a few hours of your teaching and guidance.  Henceforth, I would inform people to spread your “Good Message” and NOT the virus. . . .
—Doom-Null  ( Phd Student in Physics at the University of Witwatersrand)

I learned a lot from the meeting. I am thinking of giving some training at my local church. I
 hope to do so as soon as I get some people to sponsor it. The methodology will be very useful in our
rural communities here in South Africa but they need some motivation. . . .
—Joyce (PhD student of Social Work at the University of Witwatersrand)