Resourceful Young Children

Resourceful Young Children
Learning Brief

Angus Gillis Foundation

Collaborative Training Partnerships: lessons on how to provide EDC training in partnership with other organisations

Category: Resourceful Young Children | Formalisation of human resource development | 9 January, 2015 - 17:30



This learning brief describes the successful collaboration between the Network Action Group (NAG) and the Ubunye Foundation in designing and implementing a training programme for ECD practitioners.

The NAG, based in Port Shepstone, KZN, is a network of roughly 150 rural community-based organisations, many of which provide community-based ECD services in the Ugu District. In 2013 NAG identified several training needs for their ECD programme and approached the DG Murray Trust (DGMT) for support to address these aspects through the development of a holistic programme that would include training on:

  • Nutrition,
  • ECD for children with special needs,
  • Literacy and Numeracy,
  • Stimulation through play, etc.

The Network Coordinator of NAG was unaware of anyone in KZN providing nutrition training for ECD sites and approached the DGMT’s Portfolio Manager for ECD about possible partners to provide this training. She recommended us, the Ubunye Foundation, saying that we “have been successfully using Health Champions to impact the health and well-being of young children, as well as running very successful self-help groups, comprising mostly women.” Ubunye has experience running training programmes and using facilitators to assist in large group training sessions. We provide just the right skills and capacity that NAG needed for their training. In 2014, NAG subsequently contracted Ubunye to help train 80 people from 20 ECD sites in order to strengthen the nutrition component of NAG’s ECD model.

Designing the training programme and content

In consultation with the NAG we designed a three-day training programme with a planned two-day follow up session taking place approximately one month later. We then sent the NAG a proposed course outline and asked for input on the content, programme structure, and logistical arrangements. Taking this into account, our Family Health Programme Coordinator developed a full schedule with relevant tools to suit the training of a large group of people. Together we planned a very interactive programme that balances theory with participatory activities.

The three days of nutrition training covered the following content:

  • Day 1 – Introduction to basic physiological and immune system functioning. Introduction to how food and lifestyle affect the body.
  • Day 2 – Developing an understanding for informed decision-making. Taking a holistic view of health and how environmental, family, and personal wellbeing impact upon one another.
  • Day 3 – Taking responsibility for nutrition. Discussing food gardens, monitoring of child health, and wellbeing at ECD centres.

Coordinating the training programme facilitators

The training was targeted at a large audience. Eighty men and women attended, including ECD practitioners, site supervisors, cooks and NAG ‘Future Leaders’. Ubunye helped to identify the necessary structure of the programme to suit this group. Due to the meeting size, and in the interests of capacity building, we decided that the training would be led by our Ubunye Programme Coordinator and three community-based Health Champions acting as co-facilitators. We planned to facilitate the majority of the workshop with participants divided into three smaller groups, each with their own co-facilitator and the trainer floating between them to provide support.

During the training we had to modify our approach somewhat so that the Health Champions became primary facilitators and took on more responsibility. We were also not able to run breakout groups but instead had to conduct all training in one large room. The group responded very well to this change, as we were able to adapt the training techniques quickly. This adjustment saved time as it eliminated the need for a translator, and it brought in diversity of training styles, which allowed for more interactive and engaging sessions. Each Ubunye Health Champion had the chance to lead the training sessions and contributed a different character and skill to the programme. Each added unique value through their individual character, experience and insights drawn from their three different communities.

Dealing quickly and effectively with logistical challenges

Unfortunately, practical challenges necessitated some last minute changes to the way the training was run. There was a double booking at the venue so we had to make do with one room for all the participants and this meant that we did not have the space to break into groups. For this reason we adjusted our course structure somewhat and allowed the facilitators to take on a more prominent role in leading the training sessions and facilitating discussion.

Another adjustment was made to the timeline of the programme so as to better suit the participants travel needs. Due to the distances they needed to travel some participants requested that we start earlier in the morning and leave earlier in the afternoon to tie in with availability of taxis. We adjusted the programme accordingly and shortened the break-time sessions and it worked very well.

Next we share with other interested organisations some of the practical lessons we learnt during this training programme.

Sharing lessons on what worked well

Powerful Presentation

  • When developing a training programme we found that short, simple presentations work best but require careful and thorough planning beforehand so that they have a clear, concise message and don’t run over time.
  • If you want to motivate change you must engage people at a ‘heart’ level. Too much information does not inspire passion; instead it overwhelms the participants and leaves them feeling helpless or inadequate to affect change.

Functional Facilitation

  • It is possible to train a large number of people in a single group in one room but in order to do so the programme needs to be very dynamic and fluid. It must be well planned and rehearsed. Conduct a trial run before doing the training.
  • Use diverse facilitators. We had four facilitators who brought a variety of training and engagement techniques that helped to maintain momentum and keep participants absorbed in the learning process.

Clear, Conscience Content

  • Provide a simple explanation of the overall training purpose: A summary statement that serves to focus the entire programme and explain “why we are here” for this training.
  • The training content needs to lead logically and effortlessly from one session into the next so as to capture the participant’s imagination right from the beginning and maintain it all the way through to the end.
  • Break the content sessions down into logistical categories and topics. Then give each topic a number and match the slides, presentation materials, and handouts to these numbers. This helps facilitators and participants keep track of their content materials and the lessons.

Careful Coordination and scheduling

  • Have a simple, clear schedule and make it available to all participants, organisers, and instructors/facilitators. Then stick to it as best as possible.
  • Maintaining momentum is easier if tea and lunch breaks are kept short. Participants are often happy to have shorter breaks than what we anticipate.
  • Despite careful planning, hiccups do occur that upset your schedule. Always make sure that the programme schedule is designed to be flexible and allow for adaptation if needs be.
  • Strive for extremely high quality delivery so that even if things go wrong you will at least get a good outcome. Never set mediocre goals and objectives.

Conclusion: Growing our training capacity

Our role as outside training partners in this process was not to bring about change but rather to make visible what can be changed. EDC practitioners are eager for information and will affect change if they can see why a change will make a positive difference and influence the future of the children. We endeavoured to help them realise how they can become change agents in their own communities and ECD settings. This was our contribution to the partnership, but we also gained from it.

Through the collaborative partnership we learnt a lot about our own organisational capacity and potential. For example, we learnt that partnering with other organisations helps us tailor the training package to suit specific needs for targeted communities of practice. We learnt that if we use our human resources more effectively we can harness the experience, talents and knowledge of the Health Champions to provide a better training programme. We now also know that we have the capacity to expand our operations and train at a provincial or national level because we have tested our training model and it proved successful.

This learning brief has shown how DGMT confluence members can partner with each other to provide child wellbeing and nutrition training for ECD practitioners. Such partnerships maximise networking capacity and result in efficient use of specialised resources in order to offer high quality training. We have also shared practical tips regarding presentations, functional facilitation strategies, the need for clear, conscience content, and the importance of careful planning and coordination.

Angus Gillis Foundation

PO Box 448GrahamstownGrahamstownEastern CapeSouth Africa

 046 6227896

In Short

This learning brief illustrates how DGMT members can partner with each other to provide child wellbeing and nutrition training for ECD practitioners. Such partnerships maximise networking capacity and result in efficient use of specialised resources in order to offer high quality training.

 Search for lessons learned:

Leave blank for all. Otherwise, the first selected term will be the default instead of "Any".
Leave blank for all. Otherwise, the first selected term will be the default instead of "Any".