Informal education is infused through all of our 5 thematic areas: water, health, finance, nutrition, and education. Essentially, SSF utilizes every opportunity to educate, and seeks innovative methods and appropriate vehicles to communicate essential truths.
Our approach to education is not didactic or teacher student oriented. Rather, we create a learning commons where the teacher becomes the student, and the student a peer educator. We espouse to principles of problem- and inquiry-based learning, and decry the usual classroom didactic principles and assumptions of students being “empty vessels” to be filled with our knowledge. Truthfully, we posit a merger of indigenous with Western-derived knowledge, where the knowledge base shared is on equal terms, and where quite possibly, traditional knowledge frameworks provide the trump card and primary vehicle for creating possibilities for behavioral change.
Health education has always dominated our messaging – whether that is on HIV/AIDS; water, sanitation, waste management, and hygiene principles (WASH); or agricultural practices.
How does education enhance the health of children, youth, men, and women as they strive to fulfill basic human needs? This education is often conducted in schools, as well as through out-of-school events at the Community Development Centre, and intentionally in cooperation with government officials. During school break, we provide a suite of activities and programs conducted at the Community Development Centre (CDC) – health messages through sports and drama, and dialogical events. Our dialogical events are the most innovative educational and learning forums – opportunities to reflect together on critical life problems, and advance and co-develop behavioural solutions together.
Conceptual events are defined as:
“Facilitated, creative, problem-based forums that
‘intentionally nudge’ persons with differing truth perspectives (or paradigms)
to construct a shared, ethically compelling framework
for understanding the problem and the behavioural and social solution”.
This method is considered the most effective vehicle for modifying and fuelling positive behavioural change. The reason for this change is that risk-infected and -affected individuals are incorporated into the process. Truly understanding the nature of the risk experienced (for example, the risk reality, risk situations, and risk events experienced by vulnerable, compromised, and uncertain youth), elicits a grounded understanding for the co-creation of workable and practical behavioural solutions. This is never the case when disease interventions are constructed in isolation by behavioural researchers.
Throughout this reflection-and-action process (participatory action research), a variety of community-based stakeholders are involved: government officials, NGO workers, respected elders, traditional healers and faith leaders, and most importantly, persons affected or infected. This combination of human resources (in reasoning, arguments, and consequent stories) leads to more effective and efficacious outcomes. In short, this is mbuntu reflected in action.
We are who we are (being) because of others in community (belonging).