SWEDEN - ABF and ZIMBABWE - PATSIME: Global Solidarity Education Project "Workplace Wellness"

ABF Sweden and Patsime Trust became partners on their global project “Workplace Wellness”, and activities began in March 2017. Driving the project from Sweden is Linnéa Wennberg, development manager at a local ABF (Arbetarnas bildningsförbund / Workers’ Education Association) branch called ABF Dala Finnmark. From Zimbabwe it is Jasen Mphepo, who is director of Patsimeredu Edutainment Trust (Patsime Trust), an organisation that uses development communication strategies such as theatre, film and radio programmes as tools for social engagement. Here they both explain what the project entails.

What is the name of the project?

The project we are currently working on together is called the Workplace Wellness project. It reaches out to employees especially blue collar workers with education on sexual and reproductive health, and wellness issues. The project uses an approach of popular activism for engagement.

 

Why and how did the project come about?

We realised the need to provide information to employees on sexual and reproductive health and rights, workplace wellness, as well as and other important knowledge that they may not obviously get on a day to day basis within the workplace environment. Workers spend most of their time pre-occupied with work engagements and barely get the opportunity to be exposed to education other than their day to day work skills and knowledge acquired. Workers are a hard to reach group and as such it was seen fit to reach out to them using edutainment.

What is the aim of the project?

It is to ensure that workers are supported with the relevant knowledge and information that will assist them to demand for their rights at the workplace from their employer for safety working clothing and safe work conditions for example, as well as facilities for wellness.

What kind of education methodology is being used in the project?

Edutainment – this form of education makes use of popular theatre. The methodology entails developing a pre-scripted theme based play, which is then performed for an audience. After the performance of the play a facilitated discussion is done with the audience to dispel myths and misconceptions raised from the play. The ultimate goal for the use of this method is to stimulate debate and have conversations that will ultimately lead to behaviour change and or finding long term solutions to problems.

Who is involved in the project in Sweden, and in Zimbabwe?

In Zimbabwe Patsime’s Trust’s role is to engage the companies directly through the use of theatre and other development communication strategies .

In Sweden, in addition to ABF Dala Finnmark, the largest trade union Kommunal Ludvika  (the Swedish municipal workers’ union) and a local theatre association (Teater sLAgeT) is involved in the project. The aim is to adapt to the education methodology of edutainment and use of theatre as a tool of raising awareness and social engagement on local level.

What is the role of education in building solidarity locally and globally, do you think?

The purpose of solidarity is to build and strengthen the labour movement, and embody our mutual care and concern for fairness and equality. Solidarity is the way in which our diversity becomes our strength, with the knowledge of our as different issues globally.  We need to find tools – time and space to highlight what we have in common, and formulate a common goal. For this to happen, lifelong learning and education is essential. Education that raise awareness and teachers us about our differences and commonalities, so that we can formulate what needs to be done. Education to increase knowledge about society, its structures and systems, so that we can learn how we change it or in some cases, defend it. Education and learning exchanges regarding organisational tools and mobilising methods can make another world is possible, but we need to be many, and unified to do it.

What message do you have for educators?

All workers educators of the world – unite!