Resourceful Young Children

Resourceful Young Children
Learning Brief

Kheth'impilo AIDS-free Living

How we successfully trained 18 new Social Auxiliary Workers

Category: Resourceful Young Children | Test population-based models of provision | 23 January, 2013 - 16:09


One of our objectives of our ‘Home Based Early Childhood Development Through Social Auxiliary Work Learnership project’ is to train a cadre of 18 social auxiliary workers (SAWs) to implement a cost-effective and integrated home based ECD programme for parents and caregivers in order to accomplish positive outcomes for these children's resilience and lifelong learning. This project contributes in addressing the scarcity of social work service professionals in South Africa.  This group of learners who were selected for the Social Auxiliary Work qualification/learnership have now completed their training and are ready to complete their Early Childhood Development qualification. The following key aspects have contributed to the success of the project thus far.


All 18 SAW Learners were previously employees of Kheth’Impilo providing community adherence support within the Community Services Cluster as Patient Advocates, Patient Facilitators and Area Coordinators.   Applicants were screened and chosen from their communities for these posts and were more likely to be selected when they demonstrated management and leadership capability. Their key responsibilities in these positions are to provide support to households and families in order to ensure maximum adherence to positive lifestyle choice. They also ensure that quality care is being carried out within the community and that patients are allocated and referred according to their needs and results are recorded.  This pre-selection served us well in choosing applicants for the SAW learnership project. Their prior training, mentoring and experience in working in these communities have helped them to easily grasp the course content and to remain focused to successfully complete the course. In their participation they also saw an opportunity to acquire new skills and thus to progress to a further level of their career which could provide them with more employment opportunities.

The ‘double’ screening process resulted in good quality candidates. The screening process was driven by our Skills Development Officer and social workers who knew the candidates and were well placed to choose candidates who were likely to succeed. It was a lengthy process as we had to advertise and shortlist applicants. All shortlisted candidates were requested to write a screening test. Results of the test determined whether the applicant would go to the next phase which was a panel interview.  Thorough orientation during the induction process led to clarity of understanding of the project and its goals. Together with the training service provider we conducted a three day induction workshop in Durban for social workers, SAW Learners and Kheth’Impilo senior staff to introduce them to the project.  


The establishment of trust between the employer and the learners encouraged commitment on the part of both parties. An advantage was that learners had been working for us for several years and understood how the organisation operates and the HR processes followed.  This commitment throughout the entire project played an important role. Some of the SAW Learners were prepared to sacrifice their salaries of R5000 per month as patient facilitators and area coordinators for a stipend of R1944 to participate in the project.  This is because they saw the potential that the project had both in their personal and professional development in the long term.

Financial Support

We provided financial support in the form of a stipend and paid for learner fees to enable the learners to concentrate and commit to their studies as opposed to having to raise money to pay for the course the cost of which range between R15 000-R25 000.This amount of money is nowhere within their reach. The apprentice model is thus acceptable to these learners because they are able to study while earn a living even though it is less than their prior salary.


An accredited training service provider (Khuthaza Strategic Development) who was recommended by HWSETA inducted all involved in the project (e.g.  Social Workers who were mentors/facilitators in the project, Project Managers and SAW Learners) and ensured that the learning achieved are recognised and transferable. Having well experienced facilitators who are subject experts in the qualification played an important role in encouraging students to complete their assignments and casework. The regular monitoring and evaluation done by the training service provider and Kheth’Impilo at all levels, with regular feedback, was critical to the success of the SAW Learners.


The facilitators who conducted the training also played a role of a mentor/coach to the learners. They met one-on-one as well as in groups at times to share experiences and learnings, to discuss challenges and the worked together in finding solutions. Supervisory support provided by mentors, facilitators and senior staff enhanced personal growth and development in learners.  

In summary- the most important things that we’ve learned through this process:

  1. The right choice of learner is extremely important and should be facilitated through thorough prior screening
  2. Learners that are chosen from a group that have already proven themselves in the workplace and have gained valuable experience in the field is more likely to successfully complete the course.
  3. A well experienced, accredited training provider is essential
  4. The following are important success factors:
  • Support from staff and facilitators  
  • Regular monitoring and feedback
  • Regular stipend and course fees being covered
  • Chance for longer term employment and career-pathing

The impact of the project will take a number of years to become clear when we determine the effect of the SAW/ECD Practitioners on the children and parents that they have supported. The entire project is located in and around communities where the SAW Learners are residing. Successful learners with a Social Auxiliary Work Qualification will be seen as role models in communities as well as within Khethimpilo. They will motivate others to follow in their footsteps. These SAW Learners could become forerunners of Early Childhood Development in South Africa, possibly practitioners, mentors/trainers of caregivers in the development of children. 


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In Short

In this learning brief Keth'impilo AIDS-free living discusses the success factors for training a cadre of 18 social auxiliary workers through their 'Home Based Early Childhood Development Through Social Auxiliary Work Learnership' project. Their brief illustrates that taking the time and investing the effort to ensure high quality is always worthwhile. There are lots that other organisations can take from this practical learning brief. 

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