By Puleng Maphisa 07 June 2021
CHED Peer Educators
Centre for Health Education and Development (CHED) has embarked on a journey of developing milestones for the Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) students by shaping their future through a Peer Education Programme. This programme’s approach to health education focuses on developing and equipping skills of our youth and assist in the transition from high school to a tertiary environment where the workload is different.
The programme is designed to help students maintain their lifestyle, be able to cope in any circumstances, and have a peer educator to open up to. The programme started in 2017, each year the CHED department issues a communique stipulating the criteria used in selecting the peer educators. The criteria indicate that a minimum of 60% pass average is needed for each student to be part of the programme as it is regarded as their second curriculum which should not affect the daily academic life of a student but to improve in psychosocial lifestyle.
On 18th to 19th May 2021, the CHED hosted a training session for the 2021 peer educators held at Quest Conference Centre facilitated by Mr. Thapelo Kgakatsi the Project Coordinator. Thapelo made a presentation and trained students in different topics such as Resilience, coping during COVID-19, Leadership, Conflict and Stress Management, Time Management and Goal Setting, LGBTQI and GBV Response and becoming a game-changer (VUT Peer Education Model), assisted by Ms Thabile Khambule whom facilitated topics including but not limited to, health response, mental response, substance abuse.
During his facilitation, he touched on few points about the importance of having Peer Educators within the university. “This training is about making VUT a friendly environment for all, be a better learning space, healthy and conducive enough to protect our students including the LGBTQI community, we do not just focus on the LGBTQI but most important first-year students. Yes, the programme is for everyone, however, our focus is on our first-year students in order to assist them transiting well into a new environment. Having Peer Educators helps the Institution with dissemination of Health Education information to students and be able to identify whether professional help is needed or not through screening processes,” said Thapelo.
Thapelo said that the Peer Educator Programme does not only benefit the university but also upskill students as they receive a certificate of recognition and recommendation letter for their CVs.
Amongst the peer educators was Mr. Phasha Sekhukhune, a 4th year Bachelor of education student who shared that this is his 2nd year in the programme and his skills have impacted not only on others but on his life as well, he is currently the Chairperson of Bachelor education student Chapter at the Sebokeng campus. He said that being a Peer Educator requires time, have the patience to work with students, understand the power of volunteering, work on communication skills and be a resilient person.
In closing VUT would like to thank Peer Educators for reaching out to the student community and remembering that taking care of yourself is very important never lose yourself within the process of taking care of others but always put in self-motivation towards reaching your goals.