After 10 Years, the Postgraduate Diploma in Pesticide Risk Management Onsite Teaching Goes Online!

08 Mar 2021
08 Mar 2021

DPRM Class of 2021/2022

Twenty new students from various African countries successfully navigated two-weeks of teaching on Zoom from 9am to 16:00 from 22 February to 5 March 2021!

Although by design it is a two year online course, the highlight of the postgraduate diploma in pesticide risk management (DPRM) has always been the mandatory two-weeks contact time at UCT. Students obtain a grounding in the structure of the programme, which is around the FAO/WHO International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management, bond with classmates and learn how to navigate the UCT library and Vula systems. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented this annual even for the past 10 years..

As a result, Professor Hanna-Andrea Rother, programme convenor and head of the Environmental Health Division in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine and Ms Rebecca Mlelwa, assistant lecturer and UCT PhD student, guided students through complex topics, as well as finding their way as a new UCT student…online!

The online classroom was designed to ensure that students’ teaching and learning experience was of high quality and appropriate. It was comprised of live and pre-recorded lectures, movies, group exercises, students’ presentations, discussions and quizzes. These activities were done using a combination of online tools, including breakout rooms, polls, and whiteboard on Zoom and, lessons and assignments on Vula-the UCT learning management system. To ensure students were not disadvantaged by connectivity issues, all sessions were recorded for future reference. As it would be in a face-to-face space, students were provided with an opportunity to engage further with lecturers via WhatsApp. Additional technical support was provided as needed.

DPRM Class of 2021/22 students are from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Eswatini, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Senegal. They also had the opportunity to engage with UCT staff and global experts around various aspects of pesticide risk management who Zoomed in from all over the globe!

DPRM Student’s Risk Mapping through a Zoom whiteboard!


As part of building community in an online classroom, students participated in a ‘get-to-know you’ activity by introducing themselves on a ‘Padlet’ where they mentioned their names, background, and interesting facts about them.


Students’ reflections

‘For me, the Block Weeks’ sessions were not like ordinary online learning sessions; I found them to be as interactive and engaging as would be in the physical classes. The use of different online teaching methodologies by our lecturers was quite interesting, particularly the group discussions, which enhanced our interaction as students.   In fact, I felt that it was not any different from being in a physical class. Despite the connectivity issues, the block week sessions were impactful in terms of improving my knowledge and critical thinking around issues of chemicals and pesticides’ Fredrick Otieno Onyango, Kenya.

‘I was amazed by the advancement in technology. It was like we were actually in class. Even the way lectures were presented, and they could even form and put us in groups, surely, we were in class! The only problem for me is that I am not up-to speed with IT and so I was slow and this disadvantaged me in some sessions. Otherwise, it was oh so good! I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much.’ Doris Ndebele, Zimbabwe