Participants’ Review of Winter SChool 2012

KC JOURNAL NO 31 November/December 2012

In this article Maria van Driel* reports on the participants’ review of the Winter School, which took place three months after the school.

21 January 2013

This is a brief report of the Participants Review of the 2012 Winter School. The review took place with participants who attended the Winter School from December 2012 to January 2013.

Aims of the Review

The aim of the Winter School Review is to understand the impact of the school on participants, their organisations, and their sectors and the struggles that they engage in. The main question is: given the aims of the winter school to strengthen social movements, their organisations and the activists who attend, to what extent has the school been successful and relevant to communities and activists? The Winter School Review is carried out as a telephonic follow-up and interview with participants. The review is therefore quite superficial as it is based on interviews with participants and one focus group (FG) discussion, that was held in Johannesburg on 7 December 2012, with five activists (4 females and 1 male) who participated in the school. The second focus group did not take place, as activists did not arrive for the meeting. We did not verify or triangulate results in a vigorous way. This is therefore not a ‘scientific’ review, but is indicative of the school’s impact, and also enables us to maintain communication and contact with activists. However, attempts were made to make the review as comprehensive as possible, by interviewing as many people as possible.

Participants at 2012

The Khanya College Winter School took place from 29 July to 3 August. A total of 101 participants attended the school (54 female, 45 male and two other), from 62 organisations and various sectors such as unions, farmworkers, social movements, community organisations, and women and youth and youth organisations. A number (8) of participants were from Southern Africa and the majority was from South Africa. Women remained the majority.

WS Review participants

In terms of the review, we followed up on participants from both South Africa and Southern Africa. We interviewed 35 participants from 29 organisations and 13 sectors. The breakdown of the participants is as follows: 51% male (18) and 49% (17) female. This gender difference is not significant as it could reflect those activists who were available. Eight (20%) of those interviewed were In this article Maria van Driel* reports on the participants’ review of the Winter School, which took place three months after the school. from Southern Africa, and although this is quite high, we wanted to ensure that we got important feedback from the region. The next biggest contingent was from Cape Town (11% or 4) and this is consistent with the high number of participants from this province who attended the school.

The sample consisted of 35 out of 101 total participants, or 35%. This is a relatively high number in terms of sample representation, which is usually about 10%. The responses mto the review questions should therefore be viewed as relatively representative.

Questions & Responses

All participants were asked six questions. The five questions (see Attachment 1) focused on issues of mdevelopment, personal, organisational, networking and msocial action. The sixth question was feedback for Khanya on recording the documents of the social movements. The summary of the questions are discussed below, including feedback from the focus group.

  1. Has the experience of the WS 2012 assisted in your mpersonal development? mAll participants were overwhelming positive about their mpersonal development at the school and noted improved confidence, motivation, hope and tolerance. They also mlearnt skills and qualities, including communication skills, mthe confidence to stand up and talk, how to exercise mpatience, and how to show respect. Participants also learned more about socialism and how government operates. In the feedback provided, participants noted mincreased understanding and tolerance. Some responses also included the realisations that ‘we are not the only mpeople experiencing problems’,and ‘[We] need to share challenges’, while some noted that they have learned how to deal with challenges better. Only one participant noted that the learning was not personal as much as organisational.

FG:

Activists liked the new approach of the winter school, mespecially setting their own agenda, deciding on the topics and then facilitating this. It is much better for activists to set the topics that they are interested in. There was a request that Khanya consider giving participants time to prepare before the school and possibly consult their organisations.

  1. In what ways has the WS experience assisted you to contribute to building your organisation and social justice? Has your organisation been involved in any mobilisation since the school? All participants noted particular positive experiences of mthe skills they learnt and how this was used to advance social justice. The organisational skills learnt included morganising meetings, setting agendas, engaging with each other professionally, dealing with conflict and managing projects. Other skills noted were mobilising people, organising mass meetings, building organisation, holding better meetings, and working with other organisations. One participant noted that the organisation that they are from is now ‘taken more seriously’ by others. Another acknowledged that there were other organisations with similar problems – a realisation of the need for solidarity. The organising skills noted were also raised in relation to mobilisation since the school with youth, the tea plantations, farmworkers and anti-frakking (George). The Housing Assembly in Cape Town also took up the issue of the Secrecy Bill. In their struggle against evictions they noted that they worked with the City of Cape Town. The skills learnt are being used to organise for social justice, even though one or two noted that they have not yet been mobilising.

FG:

The group noted that the school builds activists as leaders to go back into the community and teach those within the community. This is important because when the community learns that others share the same problems, they become more interested. One member raised the problem that although people wanted to support Marikana, many of them did not share the experience of the mineworkers. The group noted that in many organisations the Winter School has assisted in how mobilisation has taken place in communities after the school, for instance, in preparing communities to participate in a march in Wynberg/Alex against evictions.

  1. How has the WS assisted your organisation to network with other organisations? If so, which organisations and has this led to any mobilisation? Nine (26%) of the participants have not done any networking since the school. The other 74% were positive about their networking and gave concrete examples of their networks in process, with organisations in the Eastern Cape and George, with the Housing Assembly, SDCEA and the environment and even internationally (with the IUF). Other organisations named where meetings were held on the environment and have been with Benchmarks and Groundwork, GCR, KZN, WCR, ILRIG, Swaziland, Sikhula Sonke and joint action in South Durban. There’s also support for other organisation’s activities such as marches, and linking up with the girl movement in Diepkloof (Soweto) and work on electricity with Thembilihle Crisis Committee.

Some participants have regular contact with activists in other provinces, where information and ideas are shared. They learnt about other organisations through contacts made at the school. One participant said, ‘The Winter School opened the platform to meet other organisations, created relations and gave each other contacts’.This sentiment was shared by other participants. There is email contact and the Environmental network has set up a Google group.

FG

The group confirmed that networking skills were deepened at the school and that networking amongst participant organisations has taken place.

  1. What specific skills did you learn at the school that you have used in your organisation? Some of the skills learnt were personal and confidence was highlighted especially by a number of participants, while other mentioned having the courage to be an mactivist. Other skills noted included tolerance as well as teaching and facilitation skills, especially popular meducation. The problem of racial discrimination was malso highlighted. Presentation, leadership, organising, writing and media skills were also learnt. Issues related to women’s abuse and the need to ‘break the silence’ were noted. Related to this was ‘learning the link between personal and political issues’.

FG

The group confirmed that many generic skills were learnt at the school that were transferred to organisations, such as writing skills, organising, facilitation and time management.

  1. Any other lessons from the WS that influenced you mand your organisations? Five (14%) participants did not learn or could not think of anything. For the other 86%, there were many lessons learnt, both of a personal, organisational and political basis. Participants talked about getting one’s self together, finding one’s voice and speaking out and learning to connect and build solidarity with others. The importance of popular education as a tool in struggle was noted a few times, and this is important feedback for the school in terms of the methodology being used. There is also a realisation of how to grow an organisation and make people interested in social movements. Broader political perspectives raised included the need for resources for movement building and decreasing dependence on donors, building unity and the importance of working with the community with love and passion.

FG

The group confirmed the kinds of lessons learnt and noted that no one was offended during the school as tolerance, respect and democracy were expressed.

  1. Contributing to research on social movement documentation This was feedback on the collection of documents of the social movements that Khanya will need to follow-up with participants.

Other feedback The Winter School discussed the need for a regular Activist Forum to meet to provide support and the space to exchange ideas and solidarity. The forum was set for 22 August. The first forum after the School was fortuitous in that it provided the space to support the mineworkers and community of Marikana after the massacre on 16 August. This enabled communities, together with Khanya, to engage in educational and awareness raising activities and to form the ‘We are All Marikana’ (WAAM) campaign. The WAAM quickly mobilised communities and developed a democratic platform for the campaign. This also reflects the importance of the school and Khanya for activists and its ability to respond swiftly to community needs.

Conclusion

Winter School 2012 has assisted activists in the work of building movements and defending communities. A number of skills and lessons have been learnt through the many platforms created at the school, and the networks of solidarity that exist beyond the school. There is a need to deepen the popular education tools for activists for use in their organisations and their communities. This will assist in strengthening organisations, transparency and democracy.In this article Maria van Driel* reports on the participants’ review of the Winter School, which took place three months after the school.

21 January 2013

This is a brief report of the Participants Review of the 2012 Winter School. The review took place with participants who attended the Winter School from December 2012 to January 2013.

Aims of the Review

The aim of the Winter School Review is to understand the impact of the school on participants, their organisations, and their sectors and the struggles that they engage in. The main question is: given the aims of the winter school to strengthen social movements, their organisations and the activists who attend, to what extent has the school been successful and relevant to communities and activists? The Winter School Review is carried out as a telephonic follow-up and interview with participants. The review is therefore quite superficial as it is based on interviews with participants and one focus group (FG) discussion, that was held in Johannesburg on 7 December 2012, with five activists (4 females and 1 male) who participated in the school. The second focus group did not take place, as activists did not arrive for the meeting. We did not verify or triangulate results in a vigorous way. This is therefore not a ‘scientific’ review, but is indicative of the school’s impact, and also enables us to maintain communication and contact with activists. However, attempts were made to make the review as comprehensive as possible, by interviewing as many people as possible.

Participants at 2012

The Khanya College Winter School took place from 29 July to 3 August. A total of 101 participants attended the school (54 female, 45 male and two other), from 62 organisations and various sectors such as unions, farmworkers, social movements, community organisations, and women and youth and youth organisations. A number (8) of participants were from Southern Africa and the majority was from South Africa. Women remained the majority.

WS Review participants

In terms of the review, we followed up on participants from both South Africa and Southern Africa. We interviewed 35 participants from 29 organisations and 13 sectors. The breakdown of the participants is as follows: 51% male (18) and 49% (17) female. This gender difference is not significant as it could reflect those activists who were available. Eight (20%) of those interviewed were In this article Maria van Driel* reports on the participants’ review of the Winter School, which took place three months after the school. from Southern Africa, and although this is quite high, we wanted to ensure that we got important feedback from the region. The next biggest contingent was from Cape Town (11% or 4) and this is consistent with the high number of participants from this province who attended the school.

The sample consisted of 35 out of 101 total participants, or 35%. This is a relatively high number in terms of sample representation, which is usually about 10%. The responses mto the review questions should therefore be viewed as relatively representative.

Questions & Responses

All participants were asked six questions. The five questions (see Attachment 1) focused on issues of mdevelopment, personal, organisational, networking and msocial action. The sixth question was feedback for Khanya on recording the documents of the social movements. The summary of the questions are discussed below, including feedback from the focus group.

  1. Has the experience of the WS 2012 assisted in your mpersonal development? mAll participants were overwhelming positive about their mpersonal development at the school and noted improved confidence, motivation, hope and tolerance. They also mlearnt skills and qualities, including communication skills, mthe confidence to stand up and talk, how to exercise mpatience, and how to show respect. Participants also learned more about socialism and how government operates. In the feedback provided, participants noted mincreased understanding and tolerance. Some responses also included the realisations that ‘we are not the only mpeople experiencing problems’,and ‘[We] need to share challenges’, while some noted that they have learned how to deal with challenges better. Only one participant noted that the learning was not personal as much as organisational.

FG:

Activists liked the new approach of the winter school, mespecially setting their own agenda, deciding on the topics and then facilitating this. It is much better for activists to set the topics that they are interested in. There was a request that Khanya consider giving participants time to prepare before the school and possibly consult their organisations.

  1. In what ways has the WS experience assisted you to contribute to building your organisation and social justice? Has your organisation been involved in any mobilisation since the school? All participants noted particular positive experiences of mthe skills they learnt and how this was used to advance social justice. The organisational skills learnt included morganising meetings, setting agendas, engaging with each other professionally, dealing with conflict and managing projects. Other skills noted were mobilising people, organising mass meetings, building organisation, holding better meetings, and working with other organisations. One participant noted that the organisation that they are from is now ‘taken more seriously’ by others. Another acknowledged that there were other organisations with similar problems – a realisation of the need for solidarity. The organising skills noted were also raised in relation to mobilisation since the school with youth, the tea plantations, farmworkers and anti-frakking (George). The Housing Assembly in Cape Town also took up the issue of the Secrecy Bill. In their struggle against evictions they noted that they worked with the City of Cape Town. The skills learnt are being used to organise for social justice, even though one or two noted that they have not yet been mobilising.

FG:

The group noted that the school builds activists as leaders to go back into the community and teach those within the community. This is important because when the community learns that others share the same problems, they become more interested. One member raised the problem that although people wanted to support Marikana, many of them did not share the experience of the mineworkers. The group noted that in many organisations the Winter School has assisted in how mobilisation has taken place in communities after the school, for instance, in preparing communities to participate in a march in Wynberg/Alex against evictions.

  1. How has the WS assisted your organisation to network with other organisations? If so, which organisations and has this led to any mobilisation? Nine (26%) of the participants have not done any networking since the school. The other 74% were positive about their networking and gave concrete examples of their networks in process, with organisations in the Eastern Cape and George, with the Housing Assembly, SDCEA and the environment and even internationally (with the IUF). Other organisations named where meetings were held on the environment and have been with Benchmarks and Groundwork, GCR, KZN, WCR, ILRIG, Swaziland, Sikhula Sonke and joint action in South Durban. There’s also support for other organisation’s activities such as marches, and linking up with the girl movement in Diepkloof (Soweto) and work on electricity with Thembilihle Crisis Committee.

Some participants have regular contact with activists in other provinces, where information and ideas are shared. They learnt about other organisations through contacts made at the school. One participant said, ‘The Winter School opened the platform to meet other organisations, created relations and gave each other contacts’.This sentiment was shared by other participants. There is email contact and the Environmental network has set up a Google group.

FG

The group confirmed that networking skills were deepened at the school and that networking amongst participant organisations has taken place.

  1. What specific skills did you learn at the school that you have used in your organisation? Some of the skills learnt were personal and confidence was highlighted especially by a number of participants, while other mentioned having the courage to be an mactivist. Other skills noted included tolerance as well as teaching and facilitation skills, especially popular meducation. The problem of racial discrimination was malso highlighted. Presentation, leadership, organising, writing and media skills were also learnt. Issues related to women’s abuse and the need to ‘break the silence’ were noted. Related to this was ‘learning the link between personal and political issues’.

FG

The group confirmed that many generic skills were learnt at the school that were transferred to organisations, such as writing skills, organising, facilitation and time management.

  1. Any other lessons from the WS that influenced you mand your organisations? Five (14%) participants did not learn or could not think of anything. For the other 86%, there were many lessons learnt, both of a personal, organisational and political basis. Participants talked about getting one’s self together, finding one’s voice and speaking out and learning to connect and build solidarity with others. The importance of popular education as a tool in struggle was noted a few times, and this is important feedback for the school in terms of the methodology being used. There is also a realisation of how to grow an organisation and make people interested in social movements. Broader political perspectives raised included the need for resources for movement building and decreasing dependence on donors, building unity and the importance of working with the community with love and passion.

FG

The group confirmed the kinds of lessons learnt and noted that no one was offended during the school as tolerance, respect and democracy were expressed.

  1. Contributing to research on social movement documentation This was feedback on the collection of documents of the social movements that Khanya will need to follow-up with participants.

Other feedback The Winter School discussed the need for a regular Activist Forum to meet to provide support and the space to exchange ideas and solidarity. The forum was set for 22 August. The first forum after the School was fortuitous in that it provided the space to support the mineworkers and community of Marikana after the massacre on 16 August. This enabled communities, together with Khanya, to engage in educational and awareness raising activities and to form the ‘We are All Marikana’ (WAAM) campaign. The WAAM quickly mobilised communities and developed a democratic platform for the campaign. This also reflects the importance of the school and Khanya for activists and its ability to respond swiftly to community needs.

Conclusion

Winter School 2012 has assisted activists in the work of building movements and defending communities. A number of skills and lessons have been learnt through the many platforms created at the school, and the networks of solidarity that exist beyond the school. There is a need to deepen the popular education tools for activists for use in their organisations and their communities. This will assist in strengthening organisations, transparency and democracy.

In this article Maria van Driel* reports on the participants’ review of the Winter School, which took place three months after the school.

21 January 2013

This is a brief report of the Participants Review of the 2012 Winter School. The review took place with participants who attended the Winter School from December 2012 to January 2013.

Aims of the Review

The aim of the Winter School Review is to understand the impact of the school on participants, their organisations, and their sectors and the struggles that they engage in. The main question is: given the aims of the winter school to strengthen social movements, their organisations and the activists who attend, to what extent has the school been successful and relevant to communities and activists? The Winter School Review is carried out as a telephonic follow-up and interview with participants. The review is therefore quite superficial as it is based on interviews with participants and one focus group (FG) discussion, that was held in Johannesburg on 7 December 2012, with five activists (4 females and 1 male) who participated in the school. The second focus group did not take place, as activists did not arrive for the meeting. We did not verify or triangulate results in a vigorous way. This is therefore not a ‘scientific’ review, but is indicative of the school’s impact, and also enables us to maintain communication and contact with activists. However, attempts were made to make the review as comprehensive as possible, by interviewing as many people as possible.

Participants at 2012

The Khanya College Winter School took place from 29 July to 3 August. A total of 101 participants attended the school (54 female, 45 male and two other), from 62 organisations and various sectors such as unions, farmworkers, social movements, community organisations, and women and youth and youth organisations. A number (8) of participants were from Southern Africa and the majority was from South Africa. Women remained the majority.

WS Review participants

In terms of the review, we followed up on participants from both South Africa and Southern Africa. We interviewed 35 participants from 29 organisations and 13 sectors. The breakdown of the participants is as follows: 51% male (18) and 49% (17) female. This gender difference is not significant as it could reflect those activists who were available. Eight (20%) of those interviewed were In this article Maria van Driel* reports on the participants’ review of the Winter School, which took place three months after the school. from Southern Africa, and although this is quite high, we wanted to ensure that we got important feedback from the region. The next biggest contingent was from Cape Town (11% or 4) and this is consistent with the high number of participants from this province who attended the school.

The sample consisted of 35 out of 101 total participants, or 35%. This is a relatively high number in terms of sample representation, which is usually about 10%. The responses mto the review questions should therefore be viewed as relatively representative.

Questions & Responses

All participants were asked six questions. The five questions (see Attachment 1) focused on issues of mdevelopment, personal, organisational, networking and msocial action. The sixth question was feedback for Khanya on recording the documents of the social movements. The summary of the questions are discussed below, including feedback from the focus group.

  1. Has the experience of the WS 2012 assisted in your mpersonal development? mAll participants were overwhelming positive about their mpersonal development at the school and noted improved confidence, motivation, hope and tolerance. They also mlearnt skills and qualities, including communication skills, mthe confidence to stand up and talk, how to exercise mpatience, and how to show respect. Participants also learned more about socialism and how government operates. In the feedback provided, participants noted mincreased understanding and tolerance. Some responses also included the realisations that ‘we are not the only mpeople experiencing problems’,and ‘[We] need to share challenges’, while some noted that they have learned how to deal with challenges better. Only one participant noted that the learning was not personal as much as organisational.

FG:

Activists liked the new approach of the winter school, mespecially setting their own agenda, deciding on the topics and then facilitating this. It is much better for activists to set the topics that they are interested in. There was a request that Khanya consider giving participants time to prepare before the school and possibly consult their organisations.

  1. In what ways has the WS experience assisted you to contribute to building your organisation and social justice? Has your organisation been involved in any mobilisation since the school? All participants noted particular positive experiences of mthe skills they learnt and how this was used to advance social justice. The organisational skills learnt included morganising meetings, setting agendas, engaging with each other professionally, dealing with conflict and managing projects. Other skills noted were mobilising people, organising mass meetings, building organisation, holding better meetings, and working with other organisations. One participant noted that the organisation that they are from is now ‘taken more seriously’ by others. Another acknowledged that there were other organisations with similar problems – a realisation of the need for solidarity. The organising skills noted were also raised in relation to mobilisation since the school with youth, the tea plantations, farmworkers and anti-frakking (George). The Housing Assembly in Cape Town also took up the issue of the Secrecy Bill. In their struggle against evictions they noted that they worked with the City of Cape Town. The skills learnt are being used to organise for social justice, even though one or two noted that they have not yet been mobilising.

FG:

The group noted that the school builds activists as leaders to go back into the community and teach those within the community. This is important because when the community learns that others share the same problems, they become more interested. One member raised the problem that although people wanted to support Marikana, many of them did not share the experience of the mineworkers. The group noted that in many organisations the Winter School has assisted in how mobilisation has taken place in communities after the school, for instance, in preparing communities to participate in a march in Wynberg/Alex against evictions.

  1. How has the WS assisted your organisation to network with other organisations? If so, which organisations and has this led to any mobilisation? Nine (26%) of the participants have not done any networking since the school. The other 74% were positive about their networking and gave concrete examples of their networks in process, with organisations in the Eastern Cape and George, with the Housing Assembly, SDCEA and the environment and even internationally (with the IUF). Other organisations named where meetings were held on the environment and have been with Benchmarks and Groundwork, GCR, KZN, WCR, ILRIG, Swaziland, Sikhula Sonke and joint action in South Durban. There’s also support for other organisation’s activities such as marches, and linking up with the girl movement in Diepkloof (Soweto) and work on electricity with Thembilihle Crisis Committee.

Some participants have regular contact with activists in other provinces, where information and ideas are shared. They learnt about other organisations through contacts made at the school. One participant said, ‘The Winter School opened the platform to meet other organisations, created relations and gave each other contacts’.This sentiment was shared by other participants. There is email contact and the Environmental network has set up a Google group.

FG

The group confirmed that networking skills were deepened at the school and that networking amongst participant organisations has taken place.

  1. What specific skills did you learn at the school that you have used in your organisation? Some of the skills learnt were personal and confidence was highlighted especially by a number of participants, while other mentioned having the courage to be an mactivist. Other skills noted included tolerance as well as teaching and facilitation skills, especially popular meducation. The problem of racial discrimination was malso highlighted. Presentation, leadership, organising, writing and media skills were also learnt. Issues related to women’s abuse and the need to ‘break the silence’ were noted. Related to this was ‘learning the link between personal and political issues’.

FG

The group confirmed that many generic skills were learnt at the school that were transferred to organisations, such as writing skills, organising, facilitation and time management.

  1. Any other lessons from the WS that influenced you mand your organisations? Five (14%) participants did not learn or could not think of anything. For the other 86%, there were many lessons learnt, both of a personal, organisational and political basis. Participants talked about getting one’s self together, finding one’s voice and speaking out and learning to connect and build solidarity with others. The importance of popular education as a tool in struggle was noted a few times, and this is important feedback for the school in terms of the methodology being used. There is also a realisation of how to grow an organisation and make people interested in social movements. Broader political perspectives raised included the need for resources for movement building and decreasing dependence on donors, building unity and the importance of working with the community with love and passion.

FG

The group confirmed the kinds of lessons learnt and noted that no one was offended during the school as tolerance, respect and democracy were expressed.

  1. Contributing to research on social movement documentation This was feedback on the collection of documents of the social movements that Khanya will need to follow-up with participants.

Other feedback The Winter School discussed the need for a regular Activist Forum to meet to provide support and the space to exchange ideas and solidarity. The forum was set for 22 August. The first forum after the School was fortuitous in that it provided the space to support the mineworkers and community of Marikana after the massacre on 16 August. This enabled communities, together with Khanya, to engage in educational and awareness raising activities and to form the ‘We are All Marikana’ (WAAM) campaign. The WAAM quickly mobilised communities and developed a democratic platform for the campaign. This also reflects the importance of the school and Khanya for activists and its ability to respond swiftly to community needs.

Conclusion

Winter School 2012 has assisted activists in the work of building movements and defending communities. A number of skills and lessons have been learnt through the many platforms created at the school, and the networks of solidarity that exist beyond the school. There is a need to deepen the popular education tools for activists for use in their organisations and their communities. This will assist in strengthening organisations, transparency and democracy.


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