Rhodes>NALSU>Worker Education>Short course on Policy, Theory and Research for Labour Movements

Short course on Policy, Theory and Research for Labour Movements

Short Course Programmes

The NALSU team has been working on the idea of an accredited short course for unions and allied working class civil society organisations in the Eastern Cape since the launch of the Vuyisile Mini Winter School Series. Our proposal for such a short course was formally approved by Rhodes University in late 2017 and a module was piloted in 2018 in Port Elizabeth. We are undertaking a fuller rollout in 2019 in partnership with the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Education and Training Authority (merSETA). We have obtained input from trade union federations at national level and are engaging further within the Eastern Cape. 

The new short course has four main modules, and follows the same general principles adopted for the Vuyisile Mini Winter Schools: 

  • Capacity building
  • Progressive and pro-labour in orientation
  • Non-sectarian and non-aligned
  • University-based (and not in competition with other components of worker education in unions, LSOs and workplaces)
  • Mixture of content, debate/ critical reasoning, and hard skills in writing, analysis and basic research
  • Academically rigorous
  • Structured partnerships with working class movements
  • A dedicated programme customised by structured and substantive input by union partners (not a rebranding of existing courses developed for other constituencies)

The four main modules are as follows: 

  • Political economy/ economic and social policy.
  • State institutions and labour law.
  • History and debates in the workers' and socialist movement.
  • Building organisation.

The short course programme and its modules will be delivered by NALSU in partnership with the Department of Sociology, which has a large programme in progressive economic and industrial Sociology, with complementary expertise from Rhodes University’s Department of Economics and Economic History and its Department of History, as well as NGOs. As indicated previously, our funding partner is the merSETA.

Structure and delivery

Each module involves 5-7 intense days.  The four modules are to be delivered by block release, and involve engaged, interactive small-class environments. Course evaluation per module will consist of one test, one take-home assignment, and one exam – with intensive feedback at all stages. This formal evaluation also opens the door to the possible future accreditation of modules towards university degrees, although that is a process that requires further discussion.

The modules are located at NQF 6 level, and will be delivered and evaluated as rigorously as first year university courses. Completion of all four modules involves working for the same hours and attaining the same core competencies as two first year university courses at Rhodes. Successful demonstration of core competencies – content-based, critical reasoning and hard skills – earns certificates of competence at NQF 6 level.

Ideally, the modules will be delivered on-site at Rhodes University, allowing use of university residences, libraries and other facilities, thereby opening access to academic resources. On-site delivery also allows for intense study and reading, including in groups, without distractions, travel issues and other pressures.  

Intended learners

The short course is aimed, in the first instance, at union office bearers (elected within the union/s, including shop stewards) and officials (appointed within the union/s as employees). There will be 20-25 students enrolled for each module, with a Matric or Matric-equivalent level of education, including via Recognition of Prior Learning. 


For additional information or follow-up discussions, please contact either one of the following two people: 

Prof Lucien van der Walt, l.vanderwalt@ru.ac.za 

Dr John Reynolds, john.reynolds@ru.ac.za

Last Modified: Wed, 13 Mar 2019 09:13:56 SAST