The Workers’ College has introduced a range of new learning Programmes and qualifications in 2017.

For ease of reference these have been divided into two groups termed, Funded Programmes and Non Funded Programmes. Over time the College may get financial support for new programmes and qualifications and then financial support will be made available to applicants in these programmes under the same conditions as people access the existing funded Degree and certificate programmes.

To all ‘students’ of the four (5) programmes, Labour Studies Certificate (LSC), Labour Economic Certificate (LEC), Political and Social Development Certificate (PSDC), and Gender and Labour Studies Certificate (GLSC) and the Advanced Certificate in Participatory Research (ACPAR) We the Workers’ welcome you to the 2017 academic year. During the year you will share, participate, debate, write, read, developed your skill. Generally you will develop yourself to better serve your constituencies and organisations.

The academic programme for this year is comprised of six (6) modules. Modules one (1) to five (5) are offered in nine short blocks of 2 days and 3 days. Given that module six (6) provides academic writing and research literacy skills its runs across the five modules. This allows facilitators to draw relevant insights from his/her discipline as practical examples that will be applied to module six.

The approach to this learning experience is a participatory one. This means that you will be responsible, together with our fellow classmates, facilitators and staff of the Workers’ College for your own development. The role of your facilitators is to ‘facilitate’ your learning experience. They will your supporters, helpers, as you go through the learning process. In other words the facilitators are not there to teach but to help you connect the dots while providing you with the broader perspective and context. This means that you will be considered as a glass half full and will have to draw from your reserve to enrich the learning process. This requires your active participation in class sessions by sharing your experiences, asking questions when you are not sure, debate an issue when you have a different view while respecting the process and the views of others at all times.

Our programmes are designed to increase your knowledge base, develop your skills of critical thinking, and help apply all of this to your everyday situation at work, in your organisation, in your community, and at home. As such, a high level of discipline and commitment is required. This is particularly important because you are here on behalf of your organisation or constituency and your conduct will be viewed and analysed as reflection of these institutions.




This year the Workers’ College will celebrate its 25th anniversary of existence and active involvement in workers’ and community education. Initially the programme was directed at trade union activists but over the years it has extended its mandate to include activists from different types of organisations both in the world of work and in communities.

The mission of the College is to assist in building people’s power and capacities in the world of work and in their communities. To this end it has committed itself to supporting the development of trained, conscious and committed activists (shop stewards, leaders, organisers, etc.).

The College programmes aim to be of a high academic standard, rigorous and challenging. They are benchmarked against the academic standard offered at other tertiary education institutions. At the same time our programmes are rooted in the independent concerns of workers’ trade unions and community organisations. The methodology we use, our pedagogy, makes our offerings easily accessible to our students regardless of their prior formal education experience.

In offering our programmes the Workers’ College creates a space for workers, and activists from different organisations, different levels, both at the workplace and in communities to reflect on their situation and develop new ideas and skills, regenerate, develop hope and commitment so that they could return to the ‘battle fronts’ reenergised and relevant.

Key objectives of the programmes

  • The programme aims to give trade union and community activists an opportunity to:
  • Reflect on the growing structural triple challenge of poverty, inequality, and unemployment in the country and how these issues can be addressed.
  • To critically look at current strategies pursued to eradicate the above challenges and reflect on alternative ideas and perspectives to address them.
  • To critically assess the challenges faced by unions and community organisations in order to build the power and consciousness of the working class and communities leaders especially in areas where organising strategies are seen to be failing.
  • To meet other activists, share ideas and develop commitment to the struggle of working people and the poor.
  • To develop their own intellectual and organising skills and identify paths for continued self-development.

Expected Outcomes

At the end of the programme we expect participants to be able to:

  • Critically analyse problems and develop ideas for alternatives as well as strategies for change
  • Critically assess organisational and community challenges and strategies be able formulate new approaches of empowering and building working class and community leaders’ consciousness.
  • Identify and conduct basic research using participatory action research methods and communicate their view through well-structured and convincing academic essays and papers.


Admissions Policy and Procedure For Funded Programmes

See the Admissions Policy and Procedure For Funded Programmes page.



Participants on the College’s programmes come with a variety of knowledge, experience, skills all borne out of personal, community and organisational struggle. To this end the College gives recognition to the concept of RPL as follows:

  • Recognition of people’s individual and collective experiences, beliefs, knowledge base, values, practices, culture
  • Create an environment where such recognition is allowed to prevail
  • Allow such experiential knowledge to engage critically with conventional knowledge on equal footing
  • Inculcate a sense of self-respect, self-esteem, self-reliance, and collectivism
  • Moving towards finding solutions using our prior learning and conventional learning and seeking alternatives



The five programmes are comprised of six modules. Two modules are generic to all programmes as they are considered essential for achieving their aim and objectives. The generic modules are the Political Economy of South African Legal Framework, and Academic Research Literacy which is run across all blocks. The four programmes are structured as follow:

Labour Studies Certificate (LSC)

  • Module 1: Political Economy of the South African Legal Framework
  • Module 2: South African and International Industrial Relations
  • Module 3: International and South African History and Theory of Trade Union
  • Module 4: Labour Law for South African Trade Unions
  • Module 5: Activism, Bargaining, Organising and Campaigning for South African Trade Unions
  • Module 6: Academic and Research Literacy

Gender and Labour Studies Certificate (GLSC)

  • Module 1: Political Economy of the South African Legal Framework
  • Module 2: Gender in International and South African Industrial Relations
  • Module 3: Gender in Trade Union History and Theory
  • Module 4: Gender and the Political Economy of Development
  • Module 5: Gender in Activism, Organising and Campaigning in Democratic Organisations
  • Module 6: Academic and Research Literacy

Labour Economics Certificate (LEC)

  • Module 1: Political Economy of the South African Legal Framework
  • Module 2: Economics in Industrial Relations in South Africa
  • Module 3: Fundamentals of Economics for Trade Union
  • Module 4: Poltical Economy of South Africa
  • Module 5: The South African Labour Market
  • Module 6: Academic and Research Literacy

Political and Social Development Certificate (PSDC)

  • Module 1: Political Economy of the South African Legal Framework
  • Module 2: Labour Capital and State in South African Industrial Relations
  • Module 3: Introduction to Political Studies and Working Class Philosophy
  • Module 4: Political Economy of South Africa
  • Module 5: Capitalism and Development
  • Module 6: Academic and Research Literacy

Advanced Certificate in Participatory Action Research

  • Module 1: Introduction to PAR
  • Module 2: Research Methodology
  • Module 3: Statistics
  • Module 4: Research Facilitation Skills
  • Module 5: Action Planning and Research Implementation Skills
  • Module 6: Assessment, reporting and evaluation skills (POE)


There is a lot of practice in this certificate and participants are expected to complete a research project over the year demonstrating the use of the skills acquired in a report and portfolio of evidence.



While the main activity of the programme will revolve around blocks of two to three days spread over the year, it is important that participants put a great deal of work between blocks. The structure of the blocks has been designed to allow students to read, write, jot down questions between blocks and get ready for informed engagement in class discussions.

The tasks students are expected to conduct between blocks include reading and writing of assignments/essay, research, field work, etc. Participants who work well between blocks will benefit from the programme more than those who treat this task only as “homework” which is hastily prepared just before the next session, presentation, or due date.

Participant should keep in mind that learning takes place not simply in the classroom discussion but in the individual practice and independent study outside the normal class room activities.

Assignments and Exams

Participants will write assignments and undertake an examination after the completion of each module. Student will not be allowed to write exam if they have not submitted all the required assignments. Any late submission will be penalised by a 5% deduction per day on the assignment mark. An assignment which is late for a maximum of three days will not be marked. This means the concerned student will receive a zero on the task, resulting in the participant exclusion from the exam.

Module Mark Structure

In most of the instances the overall module mark allocation will be structure as follows:

  • Attendance and Class Participation (10%)
  • Assignments (40%)
  • Final exam   (50%)     (Allocations are slightly different in the ACPAR)


2017 Time Table for The certificate Programmes

Block 1 20-24/2/2017 20-24/2/2017 27/2-3/3 2017 27/2-3/3 2017 27/2-3/3 2017
Block 2 3-7/4/2017 3-7/4/2017 8-12/5/2017 8-12/5/2017 8-12/5/2017
Block 3 19-23/6/2017 19-23/6/2017 26-30/6/2017 26-30//6/2017 26-30//6/2017
Block 4 21-25/8/2017 21-25/8/2017 14-18/8/2017 14-18/82017 3-7/7/2017
Block 5 2-6/10/2017 2-6/10/2017 2-6/10/2017 2-6/10/2017 23-27/10/2017
Finalisation of Portfolios of evidence (not attendance based) 20-24/11/2017