We identified serious capacity issues among trade union and community activists, and decided to embark on a mass education programme, covering everything from basic shop steward training, political education through to paralegal support and media development. During 2010 we partnered with Cosatu’s national education desk and launched the campaign at a national conference attended by over 200 representatives (see Declaration of the Mass Education Conference held during 13–16 April 2010).
The education campaign has many facets and is delivered in different ways as outlined below, primarily via Labour-Community Media Forums (LCMF’s) and Cosatu Locals at community level. Unfortunately Cosatu’s participation in the campaign has been inconsistent, weakening the achievement of our goals. Nevertheless we have persevered and have had good co-operation from unions at regional and local level.
We have produced a wide range of educational and training material over the years, including some very well-regarded education manuals and publications. We were able to make a significant contribution to the trade union struggle for HIV prevention and treatment, by producing firstly an HIV-AIDS manual for trade unionists in South Africa, and then a manual for transport workers around the world, for the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
We have also produced educational material and publications on Farm Workers’ Right, 50 Years of the Freedom Charter, Solidarity for the People of Swaziland and Zimbabwe, and Palestine. These are in addition to the publications on Freedom of Expression and Media Freedom – the Role of Trade Unions – produced in English and Arabic. Other publications in production for launching in 2014 include a “Get Organised” series of booklets and a Marxist Manual that will be a primer, introducing activists to Marxist philosophy and theory.
Education and Training provision
We are in the process of registering with South Africa’s sector skills council, the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) for media skills, the Media, Information and Communication Technology (MICT) Seta. This would make us an accredited media training provider, recognised by the sector, and also make us eligible for funding support for training. Trainees will also have accredited formal qualifications that could assist them in finding employment in the media industry. There are significant bureaucratic hurdles to overcome, but we feel that this is an important development.