14 June 2005

Cape Town

Represented by  Chairperson: Mahlengi Bhengu,

Vice Chairperson: Eddie De Klerk,

Acting Director: Jerry Malatji,

Acting Programme Co-ordinator Sheri Hamilton  

1. What is Ditsela?

"Ditsela" stands for the Development Institute for Training, Support and Education for Labour. In Sotho it means Pathways. Our slogan is 'Pathways to a Strong Labour Movement'. The institute is a joint project of the two largest Labour Federations in South Africa, COSATU and FEDUSA.

It was created to help build the Labour Movement’s education and organisational capacity. Ditsela’s programme is regularly updated to respond to the new and emerging challenges faced by the labour movement.

Ditsela is bound by the values, principles and broad aims of the trade union movement. These Principles and Values were restated in a Trade Union Education Charter developed at the 1997 Ditsela Educator Conference. It aims to put resources into increasing the pool of union educators, researchers, activists and organisers, and especially those who have been disadvantaged by race, gender, class and disability. Ditsela endeavors to ensure the participation of a high proportion of women in all its programmes.

Ditsela is funded primarily by the Department of Labour, from the Strengthening of Civil Society Fund, which has been a significant step forward in terms of showing a commitment and recognition of the value of trade union education in South Africa.

Supplementary funding has been sourced from sympathetic international trade unions and funders.

With the advent of Skills Development in South Africa, Ditsela has been advised to also seek funding from the National Skills Fund, a process in which we have been engaged for the past two years.


2. History

Ditsela is a Section 21 Company, established on the 26th November 1996. It is an initiative of COSATU, FEDSAL (now FEDUSA),NACTU who subsequently withdrew, and the Department of Labour.

In 1994, after a series of meaningful interactions, the new democratic government responded positively to the demands of the trade union movement for a clear government commitment to trade union education

under the control of the trade union movement. It created a special dedicated fund for this purpose, which lead to the formation of DITSELA, a cross-federation provider of high quality trade union education and organisational support.

Ditsela started formally operating in January 1997 and Ditsela Western Cape was formed in October 2000 when it merged with the Western Cape Workers College.

Ditsela is now eight years old and has established itself as a key part of the labour movement’s education and training and capacity-building infrastructure.

Presently, it runs a vibrant annual programme of educational courses and gives organisational support to a large number of unions in South Africa and further afield on the continent.

3. Vision

Ditsela strives to be a responsive, innovative and democratic learning organisation that contributes to building a strong trade union movement. It endeavors to conduct relevant and high quality trade union education and support, as well as education research informed by this work.

Ditsela’s approach is based on the recognition of the primary role of the trade union movement and the working class in transforming society and the important contribution of trade union education in realizing this goal..


Ditsela aims to contribute to strengthening the labour movement by:

  1. Delivering programmes that are at the cutting edge in trade union education, research and support.
  2. Supporting the development of the organisational capacity of trade unions and federations towards delivering their own education provision and the building of working class power.
  3. Striving to be a worker-education center that offers dynamic, vibrant, critical and inspiring education that engages the evolving challenges facing the trade union movement and the broader working class.
  4. Building a comprehensive and responsive programme that can be reproduced, adapted and sustained throughout the labour movement.
  5. Maintaining an open space for critical reflection and engagement
  6. Embodying and promoting the democratic views and ethos of the trade union movement.
  7. Striving to be a responsive learning organisation.
  8. Encouraging unionists who participate in the Ditsela programme to ploughback their learnings to strengthen the labour movement.

5. Ditsela structures

Ditsela is governed by a Management Board that is made up of senior representatives of COSATU and FEDUSA.

The Ditsela Board meets three times per year . The Board has appointed an Executive Committee which meets bi- monthly and is assisted by the Director and a Management Team to manage Ditsela.

Ditsela has 18 full-time staff members who are responsible for implementing the Education & Support programme. In addition, the services of a range of labour service organisations and individuals close to the labour movement with specialized skills and experience are utilized.

Ditsela's Head Office is in Johannesburg and a satellite office in the Western Cape office based at the University of the Western Cape.

An organogram of Ditsela structures




6. Ditsela Board

Chairperson:  		Mahlengi Bhengu, Education Officer, 
			Congress of South African Trade Unions

Vice Chairperson: 	Eddie de Klerk, Deputy General Secretary of United Transport & Allied Trade Union (UTATU) and Chair of FEDUSA Training and Education Committee. 
Directors:		Frans Baleni, Education Co-ordinator, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) (COSATU) 
			Dan Zondani, Professional Transport Workers
			Union (PTWU) (FEDUSA)  
			Joe Nkosi, COSATU Vice President (COSATU)
			Xolile Nxu, South African Municipal Workers
			Union (SAMWU) Vice President (COSATU) 
			Miriam Ramadwa, National Education Health
			and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) (COSATU)

			Vuyo Ngwaxaxa, National Education Health and
			Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU)  (COSATU)

Mojalefa Musi, South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) (COSATU)

Pinky Mncube, South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) (COSATU)

Ex Officio:		Gary Wilson, General Secretary of Transport & Omnibus Workers Union (TOWU) 

Rahmat Omar, Centre for Applied Community Education (CACE) 

Alternates:		Billy Nkosi, National Union of Leather Workers (NULW) (FEDUSA)

7. The current Ditsela programme

The Ditsela programme is designed annually as part of a dynamic process with staff, its Board and the federations’ education structures, COSATU’s NEDCOM and FEDUSA’s TEC.

The annual programme draws on work undertaken as part of Ditsela’s 5-year strategy and plan developed at its founding. In each year of planning, a fresh approach is developed to identify key challenges facing the trade union movement, and relevant priority education and support work that would meet the needs of the trade union movement.

At the time of conducting a review of Ditsela’s 5-year existence, unions in South Africa were being challenged by amongst others:

Thus, Ditsela is challenged to provide evolutionary and dynamic trade union education that ensures a deepened contextual analysis of the world we live in and the trade union movement in particular. The uncertain funding environment and the complexity of challenges facing trade union education require a funding base that ensures long-term stability.

The Ditsela programme is one small means towards an engagement within the labour movement in this complex period. Its major contribution is in building enthusiasm and excitement around the ongoing dynamism of trade union education and the worker organizations that it seeks to build.


The current Ditsela ‘delivery’ programme comprises the following key pillars:

  1. Education courses
  2. Trade Union Support
  3. Capacity Building Projects
  4. Research & Development
  5. Education Resources Centre
  6. International Support and Solidarity

7.1 Education courses

Courses are delivered both nationally and provincially.

National courses

The national courses aim to bring trade unionists together at a national level and are usually run in Gauteng but may at times be delivered in other provinces.

A consistent national programme and one that has featured in the Ditsela programme annually is the Ditsela Advanced National Labour Education Programme (DANLEP). DANLEP, as this suite of courses is commonly known, is a series of longer term advanced courses that is run over a two year cycle. Accredited courses run in partnership with the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Higher Education and Development and the University of the Witwatersrand’s Public and Development Management School. Courses offered within the DANLEP suite are:

Attendance on these courses are quite demanding and are targeted at unionists who either occupy leadership positions or who are being groomed to occupy such positions. The suite comprises five courses, but not all are run annually, to allow for course development in fallow years.

Another relatively permanent feature of the Ditsela national programme is the core skills suite of courses. This suite comprises of:

The core skills courses are aimed at developing some basic trade union skills and are usually offered as a school of three courses, from which participants select one.

These skills are also integrated into the DANLEP suite of courses.

Other national short courses are ‘unfixed’ and form part of a menu of courses from which some are selected during the Ditsela annual planning process based on the needs of the trade union movement. These courses are either offered as part of the national programme or in response to specific requests from unions.

The 2005 national short course programme includes a:

Provincial courses

In addition to the national courses, Ditsela also delivers courses at a provincial level, where attempts are made to reach a wider pool of trade unionists.

Efforts are made to ensure that these courses meet provincial needs, to build strong union organisation at a more localised level.

In 2004 a pilot provincial project was launched in Mpumalanga, working consistently with a team of trade unionists who deliver trade union education locally. To date the project has received positive responses nationally and provincially.

In other provinces we continue to adopt a systematic approach to trade union education delivery by working closely with trade unionists on the ground. To do so, visits are undertaken to the provinces that are selected for course delivery six weeks before the courses are scheduled. The purpose of these ‘pre-school visits’ are to meet local educators to discuss the state of trade union education within their province, and to agree on the programme of courses based on provincial demands and need.

Unfortunately, we are unable to visit all provinces (with the exception of the Western Cape) annually, and currently work on a two-year cycle of delivery, where we visit a province every second year.

As yet, the Western Cape is the only province where Ditsela has offices and linked programmes. The Western Cape provincial centre came about after the Western Cape Worker College merged with Ditsela in 2001. The Ditsela Western Cape centre is integral to the overall Ditsela programme, it is staffed by two people and has a dedicated programme of courses.

(i)ten modules offered over a two year period( modular programme) and (ii) annual rural schools.

The first group of participants to do the modular programme are currently completing year two of the programme. The 10 modules are based on key requirements for building well rounded shop stewards.

In addition to the modular programme, Ditsela Western Cape runs a series of courses targeted at more rurally based participants. These courses are run in far flung areas of the Western Cape and their content is decided on during a visit to the area. The courses run are usually selected from the Ditsela menu of courses, but can also be adapted or changed based on local requirements.

The key challenge in our provincial delivery work is to find new and creative ways to build education and training capacity that can be sustained by unions at provincial level to reach increasingly wider layer of their membership.

Other courses

In addition to the courses that are scheduled annually, Ditsela has a range of other courses housed in its Education Resource Centre. These courses can be used by union educators to run programmes in their own unions.

7.2 Trade union support

An increasingly important ‘pillar’ of Ditsela's work is trade union support. This pillar was born out of the recognition that trade union education happens in a variety of interactions and environments, formal and informal. This means that courses must be complemented by a range of initiatives. This pillar strives to build internal federation and union organisation and education capacity. In recognition of the importance of this work, Ditsela has allocated staff and resources to provide support to trade unions and federations.

Support work is largely determined by federations and affiliates themselves. It is varied and can range from a request for a strategic planning workshop through to a request for support to develop a programme to promote women’s leadership. Ditsela’s approach to support work is based on the following core principle:

"We will not do it for you, we strive to work with you to build your own capacity!"

What support can Ditsela provide?

Over time Ditsela has managed to develop expertise in a range of trade union areas of work and is able to respond to vast and varied requests for support. These include, among others:

A vigorous needs analysis exercise focusing on educational needs for federations begun in four provinces this year will be extended to all other provinces in 2006. The project will be an attempt to position Ditsela to deliver relevant education and training programmes.

Ditsela will work with union educators to develop their capacity to deliver union education. This includes assisting in the design and development of education programmes, building facilitation skills and deepening learning from past Ditsela courses attended. Ditsela can also support longer term education planning, including the development of budgets and the sourcing of funds.

The Ditsela Education Resources Centre has a large collection of shop steward education and training materials from unions both local and from abroad, which educators can use to develop their own courses.

Ditsela is able to support the design, development, implementation and evaluation of internal union change and renewal processes. Ditsela staff are also available to give advice on internal union OD processes, and where necessary assist in locating and working with appropriate facilitators. This could range from the design of a large scale union renewal process through to a small change such as supporting an internal system or policy.

The organisational development programme includes an OD network, where cross-union ideas and experiences are shared. There are workshops on topics of interest, research is done on union OD processes and information and case studies are collected.

Ditsela also gives support to gender coordinators, union equity officers and others working on women’s empowerment programmes. This support aims to build women leadership within the trade union movement. Ditsela plans and develops programmes for women’s leadership and for building gender consciousness.

This has been a growing area of Ditsela’s support programme over the past few years. Our international support programme over the years has grown from occasional participation in education programmes on the continent to a more sustained initiatives, which include

7.3 Capacity building projects

Another component of Ditsela trade union support centres on the establishment of capacity building projects. These projects are decided annually as part of planning the Ditsela annual programme and are assigned to dedicated members of the Ditsela staff.

Capacity building projects are designed in a way that requires direct and active federation and union engagement. They usually comprise substantive work and have a combination of research and conceptualization elements. Many of these projects may also include either development or content focused training workshops.

For 2005 the following capacity building project work is underway:


7.4 Education Resource Centre

Ditsela houses an Education Resource Centre at its head office in Johannesburg. The Resource Centre was established with the express aim of providing support for trade union educators in planning, writing and delivering their education programmes. It is not a Resource Centre that houses a large amount of books and content-rich materials, because these resources are limited. Its expansiveness and value is in the collection of education materials for making trade union education happen.

The Resource Centre is used by trade union educators, particularly those in South Africa and the continent more broadly.It also provides resources for Participants attending Ditsela national courses in Johannesburg.

7.5 Research and Development

Another key pillar of Ditsela’s work is that of research and development. Traditionally Ditsela’s research and development initiatives were focused largely on trade union education policy, and the new education and training skills environments, and it’s impact on trade union education.

The key research and development challenges that were engaged in included:

All the Ditsela advanced course which form part of the Danlep programme are accredited with the University of the Witwatersrand Public and Development and Management School and the University of Cape Town’ Council for Higher Education and Development.

An up-to-date database of labour friendly service providers has been established for unionists who are in search of relevant trade union education. The data base will be placed on web-platform to be accessed through the Internet.

In the light of new and more demanding education challenges, Ditsela’s Research and Development pillar has taken on a new orientation and shifted its research to offer more direct support to unions to meet these challenges.

This included building on some of the work already started, but also shifting to the new context and environment in which trade union education is operating.

For Ditsela’s Research and Development plan for the next five years, the following key research focus areas are currently being debated:

8. Ditsela Staffing

  1. Althea MacQuene
  2. Western Cape Programme Coordinator

  3. Anthony Dietrichs
  4. Programe Officer

  5. Ayanda Madyibi
  6. Administration Manager

  7. Deborah Byrne
  8. Programme Officer (R&D)

  9. Didi Maimane
  10. Resource Centre Assistant

  11. Elizabeth Joala
  12. Programme Assistant

  13. Felicia Jones
  14. Western Cape Administrator

  15. Gcinaphi Dlamini
  16. Programme Assistant

  17. Jerry Malatji
  18. Acting Director

  19. Khanyisile Khanyi
  20. Programme Officer

  21. Naomi Webster
  22. Programme Officer

  23. Palesa Mhlanga
  24. Finance Assistant

  25. Sanchia Dickson
  26. Programme Assistant

  27. Sheri Hamilton
  28. Acting Programme Manager

  29. Stephen Faulkner
  30. Internal Support Officer

  31. Thozama Manana
  32. Resources and Information Officer

  33. Vanessa Pillay
  34. Programme Officer

  35. Welekazi Mgojo

Finance Officer

There are currently two vacancies for a Programme Officer and a receptionist. As an equal opportunities employer, vacancies are publicly advertised in the appropriate media.