Since 1992 the School of Public Health’s (SOPH) annual Summer and Winter Schools have provided learning opportunities for well over 10,000 participants from South Africa and other African countries, making this probably the largest continuing education programme in public health in Africa.
The short course format used in both schools provides:
- responsive continuing education to health service providers; as well as
- contact time for our postgraduate students.
They also showcase the University and ‘market’ the School’s postgraduate programme, with many of our students from both South Africa and the continent more broadly hearing about us, and getting to know us, through attendance at one of the short courses.
Both schools are also designed to provide an introduction to the distance modules for our registered students, who are encouraged to take advantage of this face-to-face engagement. In addition, Winter School courses are open to members of the public who would like to undertake stand-alone short courses as part of their professional development, providing opportunities to gain additional skills in current public health issues and practice. Courses are mostly one week long, causing a minimum of disruption to the services in which the participants work. Those which are run regularly are accredited with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for continuing professional development purposes.
The courses are presented by the SOPH staff and guest lecturers from local and international institutions, using interactive and participatory methodologies.
Summer School Programmes are aimed at our Postgraduate students only at this stage. These short courses provide introductory blocks for the core study modules in the postgraduate qualifications, as well as a general orientation to academic study, distance learning and information literacy.
Since students in the SOPH qualifications undertake their studies at a distance, we encourage those who can afford the time, accommodation and travel expenses to attend and take advantage of the opportunity for participatory learning, interacting with colleagues in the field and debate. Courses continue to make use of interactive, problem-based learning methodologies.
Students find demonstrable value in attending these teaching blocks, and many have noted that their attendance had a significant contribution to their success, and so we encourage students to attend whenever they can, even if it just once in their student career.
One week courses are offered over three weeks in parallel sessions by experts in their fields. The programme is circulated by April, and bookings are taken on a first come first served basis, as the courses are often over-subscribed.
Courses are open to students registered in the SOPH Postgraduate Programme, health workers from the health and social services and the general public. Over the years, at least 12 000 participants, mainly nurses and middle level managers from all over South Africa and from many other African countries, have attended these professional development courses. Many participants have been sent by a health authority, an important indication that the services place value on our training courses.