VUT PEER EDUCATORS AWARD CEREMONY
By Puleng Maphisa 08 July 2022
Recently, the Centre for Health Education and Development (CHED) hosted a Peer Educators Group Award Ceremony during which the 2021 Peer Educators group received Certificates of Recognition for partaking in the Peer Educators Programme.
The ceremony included training on skills required to be an active Peer Educator on and off-campus for the 2022 Peer Educators Group. The training was facilitated by Thapelo Kgakatsi (CHED), Thabile Nkambule (CHED) and Oziel Mdetshe (Higher Health).
The Peer Educators Programme aims to promote the health and wellbeing of Vaal University of Technology (VUT) staff and students. This is accomplished by adhering to the responsibilities of effective response towards: health, wellness, behavioural change, stigma, and discrimination challenges.
At the beginning of each year, the CHED department issues a call for applications for second year students to form part of the peer educators’ programme. To qualify for admission, interested students should have obtained an average 60% pass during their 1st year of studies.
Peer Educators facilitate student learning and development, transition, academic access, and success through peer-to-peer interaction. They provide support to the VUT community and enhance change among their peers through learning communities. Peer educators also advocate for teaching or sharing of health information, values, and behaviour by educating others who may share similar social backgrounds or life experiences.
Peer Educators promote positive interaction between peers in small groups. They address topics such as gender-based violence, First things First, health, sexual and gender diversity, sexual and reproductive health, alcohol and drug abuse prevention, disability, mental health, and human rights.
Mr Tholo Motaung, the Founder and Managing Director of an online radio station known as Opulence Radio
During the award ceremony, students were honoured with the presence of Mr Tholo Motaung, the Founder and Managing Director of an online radio station known as Opulence Radio. While delivering his speech, Tholo asked students how many were open to feedback?
He explained that feedback assists a person to measure or determine whether they are still in the right direction. Feedback provides a mirror to determine if there is progress or not, and students should learn to appreciate receiving feedback as it enlightens their path.
During the session, CHED Director Ms Maureen Motsukunyane said peer educators appreciate receiving feedback but also face challenges of being undermined by other students. They are called names such as “condom people, gays and lesbians”. They use peer educators’ skills to overcome these challenges. CHED Programme Coordinator, Thapelo Kgakatsi, also provides development and support peer educators.
“Another challenge that peer educators face is lack of a 24-hour line of communication with the Campus Clinic to refer students in case of emergencies. As an alternative, peer educators can assist students to report sexual harassment and gender-based violence cases to the CHED offices, Victim Empowerment Centre, House Parents, Welfare Officers, and Student Counselling. All our House Parents are available 24/7,” said Ms Motsukunyane.
In closing, Motsukunyane encouraged students to look out for the unique uniform worn by peer educators during campaigns and events hosted around campus from time to time.