The Department of Public Health (DPH)’s face-to-face contact is integral to teaching and learning, where students and academics debate on current public health issues, during the annual winter and summer school programme. Compulsory classroom teaching takes place during the programme, which is two weeks on-campus blocks at the beginning of each semester for the Master of Public Health programme, one week on campus block for the Post Graduate Diploma in Public Health, and face-to-face seminars for the doctoral programs.
During the summer and winter school face-to-face blocks, students are introduced to:
- The online teaching platform through laboratory sessions.
- The discipline of public health.
- Semester courses.
- Laboratory sessions for biostatistics and epidemiology.
- Lab sessions for qualitative and quantitative data analysis.
- Introduction to research methods.
The DPH has successfully achieved to prepare public health professionals to, critically assess and resolve the public health problems facing Africa through its online courses. “The online approach has enabled the Department to produce the highest number of MPH graduates compared to other MPH programmes in South Africa. It is also the only programme in the country that offers the doctor of public health (DrPH) degree. In the May 2019 graduation ceremony, the Department graduated 26 Postgraduate Diplomas in Public Health, 61 Masters of Public Health, and 3 Doctor of Public Health graduates,’’ said Prof Mathildah Mokgatle, acting HoD: Public Health.
Since its establishment, the DPH has become a platform for research and training, offering doctorate and masters education focusing on areas such as Social and Behavioural Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences, Biostatistics, and Health Systems Management and Policy. The academic programs range from postgraduate diploma to a doctorate in public health. Currently, four programmes are running:
- Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health (PGDGPH).
- Master of Public Health (MPH).
- Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health (PhD).
- Doctor of Public Health (DrPH).
The DPH continues to offer all its programmes and courses online to accommodate working health professionals in the SADC region. Besides South Africa, professionals are from Botswana, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The unique way of offering courses online allows students to study at their own pace, in their own homes and countries, and thus enable professionals from various disciplines to find solutions for public health problems in Africa and apply them in their communities. “Online teaching forms a significant aspect of the programme (80%), is based on the principle of continuous learning, and places heavy emphasis on student interactions with the course facilitators and fellow classmates.,” said Prof Mathildah Mokgatle.